Stars: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Ken Jeong, Russell Brand, Elsie Fisher, Moises Arias, Dana Gaier, Benjamin Bratt, Steve Coogan | Written by Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul | Directed by Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
I liked Despicable Me and I won’t hide that fact. The thing is though I can say that I liked the film because I could tolerate the Minions and actually found their humour amusing. It is easy to work our really that much of the success of Despicable Me came down to Minions and kids, something that can be very annoying. When Despicable 2 was released it was known why people liked the first film, and the rule is simple: Prepare for more Minions.
Gru (Steve Carell) is now an ex-supervillain and trying to fit into modern society by running a jam business. When a secret Artic laboratory is stolen the Anti-Villain League decides to enlist him and with the help of Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) it’s his job to track down the supervillian and recapture the base. When Gru spots El Macho (Benjamin Bratt) who was thought dead they have their prime suspect. With things being complicated by Margo (Miranda Cosgrove) dating Macho’s son, Gru must solve the case and save the world. In other news…where are all the Minions disappearing to?
The move into being a super-agent is an easy one for Gru, and the theme of love is added into the mix not only through Margo’s new relationship but Gru’s partnership with Lucy. Gru of course being an ex-supervillain has social issues that hold him back, but it is an endearing and sweet relationship with Lucy is as insane as him. The character of El Macho is also the perfect supervillain with his rumoured death so over the top it’s like a James Bond villain gone to the very extreme. Adding to that the fact he has a psychotic chicken as a bodyguard and he is probably a character even more eccentric than Gru himself.
As I said in the introduction the fun of Despicable Me 2 and the first movie is the minions themselves, and the kidnapping story arc taking place in the background while Gru is busy is handled well and is actually funny. There are obvious elements to it and characters we know are involved, but the fact that there is ambiguity around the character of El Macho there is no proof he is even behind the stealing of laboratories, chemicals and Minions, but we know that something is going on. The level of humour helps what is a homage to films like Austin Powers, James Bond and In Like Flint. Even if Gru is not as suave as somebody like Bond, in his world he still has some skills with the ladies, or with Lucy at least whose sanity is questionable at the best of times.
What I liked about Despicable Me 2 is that it understands what works. We still have Margo, Agnes (Elsie Fisher) and Edith (Dana Gaier) and we have the family dynamic that Gru is adapting to and we still have the Minions. At times the level of slapstick comedy with them does border on going too far but thankfully this is reigned in somewhat so that instead of becoming annoying the Minions will still have children laughing and a few adults (like me) at least smiling at some of the humour.
Films like Despicable Me 2 for the most part are decided on by the kids who watch them. As an adult I can take a critical look at the film and I could say it fails, but that would really mean little when in reality I’m not in the age range the film was aimed at. With luck though, I actually liked the film which may make me childish, but I tend to think that adults have a right to find childish humour funny sometimes. There are plenty of jokes for adults and homages to films that adults like, while still being fun for the kids, which for me makes this film a success.
Despicable Me 2 is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.