In this summer of sequels where titles are likely to have a number attached to their name, I have to admit the one sequel I anticipated was Despicable Me 2. In the original film, we are introduced to Gru, an ersatz villain, with baldpate and pointy-nosed visage, who has grand plans to steal the moon. Gru, as brilliantly voiced by Steve Carrell, is sidetracked from his villainy by finding himself involved with three young girls in need of a parent. The film had tons of charm and lots of laughs as Gru’s humanity is revealed bit by bit, despite his potential villainous proclivities.
In the sequel, Despicable Me 2, Gru has been shorn of his “despicability” and turned into a genuine nice guy who is wrapped up in the kids and doing good deeds. While that seems like a logical plot progression, it’s not nearly as interesting as the original. There are still some laughs, although not as many, and even at 98 minutes, which passes for brief these days, the film seems draggy and over-padded.
In this outing, Gru is recruited by Lucy, an agent from the Anti Villain League, to assist in nabbing a bad guy. She is voiced by Kristin Wiig, and like several of the characters is given little to do.
However, Gru’s Minions, those chattering, bumbling little yellow creatures who wear goggles, are back and almost save the day for the film. They have most of the films best laughs, especially a couple of musical references, which I won’t spoil for you here, as they were two of my favorite moments in the film. The Minions seem ripe for a spin-off in their own film, which I understand is in the works. In fact, during the closing credits, three of the Minions do their version of an audition for such a film.
Benjamin Bratt, Russell Brand, and Steve Coogan voice other characters. The by-the-numbers plot is nothing to write home about and takes the expected path to a happy ending. And, at times, I was longing for access to a fast-forward button in order to move things along. But, despite the shortcomings of this second film tale of Gru, it’s still worth seeing for some of the gags. Apparently audiences were starved for more of the same, as Despicable Me 2 opened last Wednesday for the 4th of July holiday to record-setting ticket sales. It appears poised to be the highest-grossing animated film of the year, leaving the productions from Dreamworks and Pixar as also-rans.
There are two more things you should know about Despicable Me 2. Many of the good laughs are in the trailer, which leaves little for items of discovery, save those two I mentioned earlier. And this is one of those rare times where I can honestly say there is no reason at all to pay the extra charge to see it in 3-D. There are very few 3-D effects, including depth, and the ones that are used seem an afterthought, as in “oh…we’d better throw something at the camera.” Save that extra money for a rainy day. Or when a 3-D movie comes along that absolutely has to be seen in that format.
The PG-rated Despicable Me 2 is now showing pretty much everywhere on the planet.