Despicable Me 2

STARRING: Steve Carell, Kristin Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Ken Jeong, Steve Coogan, Elsie Kate Fisher, Dana Gaier, Moises Arias, Nasim Pedrad, Kristen Schaal.

DIRECTED BY: Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud

The minion of Despicable Me have turned into a really big merchandising tool since the release of the first film. Kids seem to love their babble speak, the fact that you really can’t tell them apart, and their below-average intelligence. They’re also gender neutral. And they are everywhere. There’s even a ride at Universal Studios called Minion Mayhem, and a movie coming out next year that centers entirely on the adventures of the minion (don’t worry, the Penguins of Madagascar are getting their own film too). All that being said, they are still supporting characters, yet they are featured prominently in the plot of Despicable Me 2.

Gru (Steve Carell) has given up villainy for fatherhood. The movie opens with him throwing his littlest, Agnes, a  birthday party, and hi-jinx ensues obviously. He is prodded by his neighbor Jillian (Nasim Pedrad) to date her friends, but Gru violently refuses. Afterward, he is approached by Lucy (Kristin Wiig), an agent with the anti-villain league led by Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan), who would like to recruit the reformed Gru for an operation involving a lost serum that turns cute fluffy animals into destructive terrors. At first, Gru refuses, because he is trying to make jellies and jams, but after Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) accepts another job offer, Gru takes them up on their offer.

Gru is partnered with Lucy, and they go undercover at a cupcake shop in the mall, where they believe one of the store owners is a villain in disguise. Gru believes it is Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt), who reminds him of a rumored to be dead villain, El Macho. Lucy thinks it is Floyd (Ken Jeong), an angry Asian who owns a wig parlor. For the remainder of the movie, Gru investigates Eduardo, while slowly falling for Lucy. He also has to deal with Margo (Miranda Cosgrove) hitting the age where she likes boys, Antonio (Moises Arias) in particular. All this is happening while someone is slowly abducting all of Gru’s minion.

I liked, but didn’t love the first one. I like, but I don’t love the sequel as well. I think they’re both about equal. I did chuckle a few times, but no large guffaws. If anything, I think the first film had more heart, because Gru really did a 180 change in personality when he adopted the kids. This time, he only slightly turns a corner, in opening his heart to Lucy. The minion are fun, but I’m not sure what an entire movie of minion is going to be like next year. The plot isn’t revolutionary, you can see everything coming a mile away. Zero plot twists, unless you fall asleep during the movie, I suppose. I saw it with a theatre full of little children, and they all seemed to love the fart jokes… and the minion.

If they do a Despicable Me 2, they really need to figure out what to do with Edith. Agnes is super adorable, and offers several AWWWWWW moments between her and Gru, and Margo has a large arc with Antonio. Edith is only seen making faces while people kiss, and playing with dangerous toys a few times. She doesn’t actually add anything to the story line as the middle child.  Gru could have two children in this film, and I don’t think anyone would have missed Edith. And while I’m sure she’ll return for the sequel, I wasn’t in love with Lucy. I would actually rather see Eduardo return, as Benjamin Bratt does a fantastic job with that character. Didn’t even sound like him.

It won’t be the funniest film you’ll see this summer (The Heat), but it just might be the thing that your kids will love you for taking them. And it’s not a bad way to waste an hour and a half.

FINAL GRADE: B

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