‘Despicable Me 2’ Movie Review

Featured Article,Movies
July 18, 2013

Mad science, spy antics & ‘minions’ abound in delightfully silly sequel

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Despicable Me 2
Starring the voices of Steve Carell & Kristen Wiig
Directed by Pierre Coffin
PG, 98 min.
Released July 3, 2013

The team behind the first delightful “Despicable Me” in 2010 returns for this equally delightful, deliciously silly sequel about an espionage mastermind, his work force of chattering, scurrying yellow “minions,” and what happens when a working relationship blossoms into romance.

This time around, the formerly “despicable” genius Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) is a doting father of three adorable adopted little orphaned girls—and a changed man. He’s left his evil ways behind and become an entrepreneur, using his underground lair’s elaborate gizmos—the same equipment that he once employed to steal the moon and construct destruct-o rays—to make jams and jellies.

He tucks his girls into bed each night, and even dresses up like a princess for his youngest daughter’s backyard birthday party when the rent-a-princess doesn’t show.

But an alarming incident suggesting the arrival of a new super-villain brings him back into the espionage game, teaming him with a spunky agent (Kristen Wiig) from the Anti-Villain League in an undercover operation at a shopping mall where the AVL believes the sinister operation can be traced.

The animation is top-notch, a comical mash of cartoonish imagination and surreal detail that’s just right for the mix of hyperkinetic humor and sentimental charm. Director Pierre Coffin and writers Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul, who all collaborated on the original movie, once again spin out a terrifically clever little spy tale that’s perfect for children, but loaded with sweet treats for grownups, too.

Moms and dads will have fun catching the various pop-cultural references, especially the gadgetry that riffs on spy tropes from James Bond to “Get Smart”—an automobile that turns into a submarine and airplane, a “freeze ray,” a tube of lipstick that becomes a taser, a wristwatch that shoots tranquilizer darts, and fart guns that fire clouds of, well, stinky farts.

Elsewhere, kids might not be hip to the Mungo Jerry ’70s tune “In The Summertime,” a vaguely French-sounding version of the schmaltzy ’90s country hit “I Swear,” or a wacky minions’ take on the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.,” but those songs will probably trigger some pleasant flashbacks for parents—and some grandparents!

And in one brief, brilliant little scene, during which Gru attempts to figure out the musical code sequence to enter a secret chamber, the movie mashes together quick slices of “Raiders to the Lost Ark,” Tom Hanks in “Big” and an old Bugs Bunny cartoon into one sly 10-second slice of a joke.

Carell and Wiig are joined in the vocal cast by Russell Brand, Miranda Cosgrove, Steve Coogan and Ken Jeong, and the minions put in a plug for their own spinoff, coming in December, during the credits in a goofball closer that uses the 3-D format for the playful “in your face” trickery that it does best.

This is the kind of fun, breezy, clever, campy movie that almost everyone should be able to sit back and enjoy. If not…well, you must’ve been shot with a stinky fart gun!

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