In a world dominated by the monopolies of DreamWorks and Pixar animation (you should see the conditions of the orphanages known to be their drawing studios) of today, it’s remarkable to see a movie like Despicable Me come out of the deep blue. It surprised with an engaging super villain forced to adapt to the unsuspecting life of fatherhood surrounded by little yellow squish balls that encompass all the goofiness of a Looney Tunes cartoon.
The sequel, Despicable Me 2, could’ve easily fallen under the might of the latter—known as the Minions— in a movie buried under the surprise of fame, its central character and his daughters at the bottom. Gruesome, I know. Which is why you’ll all be glad to know that the main character, Gru (Steve Carell), and his daughters Edith, Margo and Agnes are all safe and sound atop a pile of cash…I mean…goodwill and family values.
This is still very much Gru’s movie, with his Minions providing much of the comedic background with gags and props that will bring a smile to any fan of Bugs Bunny’s face. This time Gru turns full 180 as he joins the side of the good, becoming a secret agent who, with the help of quirky, awkward spy-noob Lucy (Kristen Wiig), will foil a plan by El Macho (Benjamin Bratt, formerly Al Pacino) to take over the world with weird purple goo.
Yes, it is the simplest of plots, but it does justice by not meandering around a one-dimensional story for the sake of sight gags and physical humor with Minions infesting every frame. It puts the majority on the film on Gru, as he deals with the struggles being a single father, having to juggle work and family while still finding time to ponder over his new found love.
Like last time the voice acting is top-notch. Carell, who is not one to known for impressions, has ironically mastered a voice that calls to mind a mix of Russian Bond villain and the actor playing him who clearly can’t do Russian. Kristen Wiig joins the mantle of actors who are perfectly cast as drawings along with Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as Buzz and Woody; Nathan Lane as Timon; Craig T. Nelson as Mr. Incredible; and Ellen Degeneras as Dory. It’s a shame they don’t give out Oscars for voice over work.
Benjamin Bratt as El Macho does a befitting job with his sexy (yes, I said it, please move on) and sinister accent that makes for a suitably deceptive villain. To refer back to an earlier parenthesis, Al Pacino was originally set for the role, but left due to “creative differences”. I imagine because picturing Pacino doing a Mexican accent makes my brain hurt.
But, as with last time, the real stars of the show are the Minions. Their gibberish dialect and screwball, physical comedy continue to be the only modern homage to Saturday morning cartoons of olde. There was one sequence where a Minion turned evil by some purple goo demonstrates his invincibility by swallowing bombs, chainsaws, anvils, etc. I laughed so gleefully it felt wrong doing it without footie pajamas and a bowl of Cookie Crisp.
I was afraid with such a strong debut by the Minions, the sequel would be a misguided mess that threw Gru in front of a rocket ship in favor of unnecessary gags. But Despicable Me 2 is a rare animated sequel that provides more hilarity and surprisingly strong character development that makes me wish we could all put on PJs, eat Captain Crunch, and get along as squishy yellow globs with feet smack each other. It’s a truly relatable movie to any father living the single life with three growing girls…who also have a gastly large nose, no neck, and the ugliest dog in seven counties.