Gru, the minions and gang are back again in Despicable Me 2 and boy is it a treat. Initially I dismissed this movie, having no interest in seeing it, but literally within the first few minutes, I was captivated and engaged the entire movie.
In Despicable Me 2, Gru (Steve Carrell) finds himself adjusting to his new normal, non-villian life as the dad to his three newly adopted girls. But things get turned upside down when his evil scientist quits for better villain career opportunities and he gets recruited to fight bad guys for the Anti-Villain League (AVL). Lucy (Kristen Wiig), a greenhorn gumshoe for the AVL, gets assigned to be Gru’s partner in crime and they go undercover as owners of a cupcake shop in the local mall where the notorious supervillain supposedly resides. But one by one, Gru’s minions go disappearing, so Gru and Lucy need to hurry and discover the scoundrel’s identity before it’s too late.
The early trailers for Despicable Me 2 were very focused on the minions. Luckily, Illumination Entertainment didn’t bombard us with minions during the actual movie (In this one at least; we can inevitably expect a non-stop minion fest in the spin-off film Minions). Yes, the minions are always around (much like the original Despicable Me); however, they feel as if they are part of the family, so their inclusion in various scenes seems justified. I thought the minions were utilized best during transition scenes, where they helped progress the plot in hilarious ways.
Despicable Me 2 is a very funny movie. The minions, as expected, are the source of many laughs, although all the humor is evenly dispersed among nearly all the characters. Whether it’s Gru, the girls, Lucy, Gru’s neighbor, or random side characters, every character contributes to the comedic tone. For example, one of the most ridiculously hilarious moments is found in a flashback where a famous old-school villain is riding a shark, strapped with missiles in the air. It’s beyond wacky, yet it just work. This movie will have you laughing out loud nearly the entire time.
Probably one of my favorite aspects of the film was how over the top everything was. It felt as if I was watching a Chuck Jones/Tex Avery Looney Toons cartoon. Illumination Entertainment fully utilizes the classical animation principles of squash and stretch to great success. Character movements are exaggerated in such an unrealistic way that it just works (ex. check out nearly all of Lucy’s movements and Gru’s blonde neighbor) and I appreciate the film that much more for making it more cartoony.
Our favorite characters are back this time around. The girls–Margo, Edith, and Agnes–are just as cute as ever. Margo, however, seems to have grown up a bit and is glued to her cell phone and has a newfound interest in boys. Gru is fantastic because fully embraces fatherhood and being Mr. Nice Gru, while not compromising his funny personality from the first film. Lucy is a real treat: she’s over the top, enthustiastic, and funny (a word that will be used frequently in describing this film). I enjoyed every scene she was in and definitely is a welcome addition to the Despicable Me family.
One criticism I had is about the end credits sequence. The movie ended so nicely and on such a high note, but then was ruined by gimmicky credits sequence, which features 3 minions messing with the audience using 3D gimmicks such as blowing bubbles, blowing noisemakers, and all sorts of other annoying tactics. I’m positive the audience already felt they got their money worth within the first 10 minutes, so why ruin a good thing in the last 10 minutes by trying to make the audience feel justified for the price of their 3D ticket?
Is Despicable Me 2 the best animated film ever? No. Is it one of the funniest? Yes. Is is one of the funniest you will see all summer and for a long time? Definitely. If you were going to pass on Despicable Me 2 because you weren’t interested, you probably should rethink that decision because you’ll be missing out on one the funniest movies of the year. Despicable Me 2 is wacky, hilarious, goofy, yet still filled with a great story and memorable characters.