Gru (Steve Carrell) has mended his ways for the better, and is devoting his life to the three little girls who found their way into his life in the first film. When a new villain arises, however, Gru is drafted into the Anti-Villain League and must use his skills for good.
Despicable Me, released in 2010, was well received by audiences and critics alike, and made $540 million at the box office, so it is little wonder that we have been given a sequel this year. The trouble is that now Gru is working for the good guys, the dynamic that made the first film work so well is missing.
Steve Carrell reprises his chewy accented role as Gru, and he does a fine job with what he is given, although gru seems to have lost some of his charisma since going to bat for the good guys. Kristen Wiig returns to the franchise, but this time she plays Agent Lucy Wilde, an agent of the Anti-Villain League who is assigned to work with Gru; no evil orphanages this time around. Benjamin Bratt steps into the role so recently vacated by Al Pacino, as Eduardo, Steve Coogan makes very little impact as the head of the Anti-Villain League, and Ken Jeong pops up too, for a moment at least.
The Minions are moved more to the centre of the film and while they are still funny, their comedy seems a little more forced than last time. Actually, this is true for much of the film; although there are some genuinely surprising, laugh out loud moments, and the comedy is tuned for both kids and adults, some of the comedy feels forced and the shine has worn off Gru now that he is on the side of good. All of the pieces are there, but they don’t quite fit together as well as they should, and the girls are sidelined; which is a big mistake.
That said, however, there are still some incredibly nuanced jokes, the girls are still as adorable as ever and the minions continually squabble with one another. As well as this, the animation looks good – the 3D is as pointless as ever – and the slapstick that made the first film so good is up front and centre.
Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud obviously tried to replicate the formula of the first film, but without Gru’s life constantly falling down around him, there is little adversity for him to overcome, leaving the film feeling flat. This is not the fault of the actors, however, as they obviously give 110% to their roles. Instead, the fault must lie with writers Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul who have given us a watered down version of the first film, and perhaps the loss of Al Pacino affected the film more than we know.
In all, Despicable Me 2 is an adequate follow up to one of the best films of 2010. There is plenty for both adults and kids to laugh at, but it does seem that some of the shine of the original has worn off, leaving the film feeling a little flat.