DESPICABLE ME 2 (U, 98 mins)
Featuring the voices of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Russell Brand, Ken Jeong, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher. Directors: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud.
Working to the principle that you don’t mess with a winning formula, directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud deliver more warm-hearted thrills and slapstick spills in the action-packed sequel to their delightful 2010 computer-animated adventure.
Despicable Me 2 doesn’t quite attain the dizzy heights of the original and lacks some of the heart-tugging emotion and warmth that epitomised Gru’s journey from cackling arch-villain to surrogate father. Young audiences won’t care a jot though, because the action sequences are bigger, including a James Bond-style opening sequence over the Arctic Circle, and the humour is just as silly.
Screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul have realised that the Minions are the star attraction, scene-stealing with googly-eyed gusto, so the diminutive yellow sidekicks are pushed squarely to the fore in the second madcap mission. They are firmly embedded in the main plot, almost elbowing Gru and his girls into the shadows, including the introduction of a new hybrid of Minion a la Gizmo and Strike in Gremlins that surely doubles the merchandising opportunities.
The film’s reliance on the Minions for almost every snigger and guffaw is noticeable and their charm starts to wear thin during the end credits, which shamelessly plugs the stand-alone Minions movie planned for next year. Perhaps you can have too much of a good thing. Only time will tell.
Despicable Me 2 begins shortly after events of the original with Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) living in unconventional domestic bliss with his girls Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher).
He has turned his back on skulduggery and now devotes his subterranean bunker to the production of jams and jellies under the supervision of technical genius Dr Nefario (Russell Brand).
When a new threat to global peace emerges, Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) from The Anti-Villain League stuns Gru with her lipstick taser and pressgangs him into working for the good guys to uncover the mastermind responsible for the theft of a top secret serum.
The trail leads to a local mall where Gru and Lucy pose as co-owners of a cupcake shop in order to spy on two prime suspects: Floyd (Ken Jeong), the beautifully coiffed owner of the wig store; and Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt), manager of the popular Mexican restaurant.
Despicable Me 2 inspires a few paternal oohs and aahs as Gru navigates the road bumps of parenthood, including a last-minute crisis at little Agnes’s birthday party. The romantic subplot between the supposedly unlovable reformed villain and Lucy is predictable but sweet, and the rest of the script follows a similarly linear trajectory.
A gooey romantic coda, replete with hilarious musical accompaniment from the Minions that turns back the clock to 1994, is the icing on a delicious, if familiar, cake.
Star rating: 8