Despicable Me 2 is in many ways, the same movie as its predecessor. Like the 2010 smash, this sequel is also slapstick-heavy, predictable, beautifully animated, derivative, at-times uproariously funny, stolen by the minions, and ultimately forgettable. But in a summer where most family fare has either disappointed (Epic) or not lived up to previous standards (Monsters University), a cute comedy with plenty of laughs is all that’s needed to do the trick.
Set shortly after the events of the first film, the sequel finds retired former super-villain Gru (Steve Carrell) living the suburban life as a stay-at-home dad to his trio of adopted daughters Margo, Edith and Agnes. Since villainy is off-limits, he’s turned to jelly-making for business but that doesn’t seem to be going so well. He’s also in the dumps in the romance department. His annoying neighbors keep trying to set him up with dates but Gru’s hardly interested. Even little Agnes (“It’s so fluffy!!!”) keeps pushing him to find a girlfriend, or even go out on a date, so that she can one day have a mommy to make her daddy happy. Everybody say “Aww!”
So when secret agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) makes a grand entrance into the picture, offering Gru a chance to help the AVL (Anti-Villain League) find a mysterious villain who has stolen a top-secret serum that converts cute critters into deadly rage-fueled gremlins, Gru can’t help but accept. It’s not like his new career making jelly and jam is doing him any good. But working on the case means going undercover in a shopping mall with Lucy as his partner – someone who Gru can’t stand! But since Lucy is played by the adorable Kristen Wiig, you can see where things are going to end up.
Like its predecessor, originality and unpredictability isn’t the forte of Despicable Me 2. Anyone over the age of 5 will be able to tell what’s going to happen the moment Lucy makes her grand entrance into the picture. The film’s big villain is also grossly predictable. In spite of this predictability, Despicable Me 2 still engages and trots along on the strength of the genuinely sweet dynamic between Carrell and Wiig. Her agent Wilde, a zany red-headed, carrot-nosed bag of awkwardness enlivens the film whenever the scene-stealing minions aren’t around.
Speaking of which, they’re still the highlight of the movie. Whether they’re breaking out into “YMCA” or “I Swear” or Conga dancing, the cuddly yellow bean-like minions are the source of all of the film’s best laughs. Although I still don’t see how Universal can milk an entire feature out of them, at least I know that I’ll be laughing out loud for most of it. After all, it’s not like Despicable Me 2 has much of a plot in the first place. Nevertheless, what it lacks in story, it reciprocates in charm, laughs and above all, heart.