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Despicable Minions have heart and humor, but 'Despicable Me 2' has a weak story

'Despicable Me 2' stars Steve Carell as the voice of former villain Gru. 'Despicable Me 2' is the sequel to the 2010 film.

By Sandy SchaeferScreen Rant / July 8, 2013

'Despicable Me 2' features the return of villain Gru's minions (pictured), small yellow creatures who speak an incomprehensible language.

Universal Pictures/AP

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In Despicable Me 2, we see that former super-villain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) has settled into the routine of fatherhood, which includes throwing princess-themed parties for his three adopted daughters – Agnes (Elsie Fisher), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Margo (Miranda Cosgrove) – and having Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) and Gru’s army of Minions spend their time making a new brand of jam, rather than weapons or gadgets for nefarious purposes.

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Gru winds up being kidnapped by Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), who is an agent for the Anti-Villain League: a secret global organization that specializes in stopping master criminals who are bent on world domination, as presided over by the snooty Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan). At first, Gru refuses their request to help track down a mysterious figure who is responsible for stealing a dangerous mutating chemical compound (by using a giant magnet). Old habits die hard, though, and soon Gru’s back in the game – only this time, he’s saving the world.

As suggested by the film’s Minion-centric trailers, Despicable Me 2 unfolds as part sequel to the original 3D animated hit Despicable Me, part extended prologue to the Minions spinoff arriving in theaters next year. The final result is a sequel that lacks the clever storyline – an examination of the line between villains and do-gooders from a different perspective – and has a weaker emotional core than its predecessor, but keeps all the inspired lunacy and cartoonish energy cranked up to the same level. Overall, though, there is enough heart and humor included to make the movie a breezy and charming viewing experience.

Despicable Me 2 was developed by the same team of people that collaborated on the first movie, which includes co-writers Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul along with co-directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud (everyone but Coffin also worked on The Lorax). This film allows those creative minds – who reside at Illumination Entertainment – to continue and position themselves as the modern equivalent of Chuck Jones, with their brand of Looney Tunes-esque satirical jokes, expressive slapstick and vibrant animation that makes proper use of cartoon physics and logic. That lets Despicable Me 2 appeal as much to adults as younger moviegoers, even though the sequel is (as a whole) geared more towards kids in the audience than the first movie.

Script-wise, Daurio and Paul fail to provide Gru with a character arc that’s equally-touching as his personal journey from self-involvement to paternal nurturing in the first movie. Nevertheless, there is some fun to be had watching Gru in the sequel, as he navigate the treacherous waters of single fatherhood (which requires him to jump back into the dating pool and ward off unreciprocated interest from available suburban moms). Carell, as in the first Despicable Me, proves to be an excellent match for the voice-acting medium, with his amusingly undefined accent and lively vocal mannerisms as Gru.

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