Three years ago, the animated movie featuring Steve Carell’s grumpy but warm-hearted villain Gru, “Despicable Me,” conquered the summer with a staggering box-office gross. Can the movie’s sequel do it again?
In the first film, Gru, who yearns to be respected as an evildoer but can never seem to make his crimes go correctly, adopted three girls whom he planned to use against a fellow supervillain, only to find his heart melted by the children who were just looking for a family. In the sequel, which came out July 3, Gru is approached by the Anti-Villain League, who ask him to work for them and help take down someone dangerous. When Gru finally agrees, sparks fly between him and an Anti-Villain League agent, Lucy (Kristen Wiig).
In addition to Carell and Wiig returning (Wiig actually voiced a different character in the first film), the three actresses who play Gru’s daughters, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, and Elsie Kate Fisher, are all back for the sequel. “Law & Order” actor Benjamin Bratt voices a new villain, while “Ruby Sparks” actor Steve Coogan plays the head of the Anti-Villain League. Bratt replaced actor Al Pacino after Pacino left the project.
Reviews so far have been mixed. Mark Kermode of The Observer called it “funnier... than its predecessor” and said he “laughed [his] way through pretty much the entire film.”
“The real joy, however, is in the increased role of the goggle-eyed Minions,” Kermode wrote, calling them “comedy gold."
Forbes writer Scott Mendelson, however, was less impressed, running his review with the headline “Despicable Me 2 is despicably generic.”
“The first act of Despicable Me 2 is so winning and engaging that it’s almost a tragedy how the rest of the film falls into bargain basement formula,” he wrote.
Entertainment Weekly writer Owen Gleiberman agreed, giving the film a C grade.
“In the surprisingly toothless sequel, [Gru] has been neutered into a boring nice guy,” he wrote. “Adults will just regret the way that Despicable Me 2 betrays the original film’s devotion to bad-guy gaiety.”