Despicable Me 2
Reason for the Rating: Rude humor and mild action.
Plot Summary: Former supervillain, Gru, is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to track down a new criminal mastermind and save the world.
PopFam Recommends: A quirky and fun film the entire family will enjoy.
When it comes to animated characters, there are two kinds of people. The first kind thinks unintelligible, little yellow monstery-dwarves are adorable as kittens frolicking on YouTube. The second kind wishes all the blobby yellow smudges would just disappear. Thankfully, Despicable Me 2 offers something for both of these kinds of people.
Yes, this film features prominently the now-ubiquitous Minions that appeared in the first Despicable Me movie (and in commercials, Halloween costumes, and a plethora of licensed products ever since). And yes, they are both sweetly adorable and incredibly annoying at the same time. But at least this time they aren't just onscreen for comic relief—they actually exist to move the story forward in unexpected and enjoyable ways.
Here's the basic plot:
Former supervillain, Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), has given up his criminal ways and become a doting dad to his three adopted daughters, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher). And, of course, the lovable Minions fill up his happy house (and underground research lab) as well.
Into this idyllic scene drops Anti-Villain League agent, Lucy Wilde (Kristin Wiig), determined to recruit Gru to help to stop the nefarious new threat of the mysterious El Macho (Benjamin Bratt)—an evil mastermind with world domination on his mind. How will he do it? Well (spoiler alert!) his plan involves kidnapping a whole lotta Minions (hence the earlier reference to making them disappear) and transforming them into Hulk-like raging purple animals that destroy anything and everything in sight.
Meanwhile, Gru must uncover El Macho's secret identity, rescue his Minions, find an antidote to their evil transformation, save the world, save his children, be a good dad who reads bedtime stories, protect his oldest daughter from the diabolically flirtatious designs of Antonio (El Guapo's dreamy teenage son) AND figure out how to handle his growing crush on his Anti-Villain partner, Lucy.
Whew, whole lot going on there, folks! And filmmakers Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin do an excellent job of bringing this Gru story to life, with plenty of humor, just the right amount of sweetness, and nonstop action to keep all the kiddies happy.
Steve Carell is, as expected, delightful as the alternately confident then painfully insecure daddy-hero. Kristin Wiig communicates such wonderful irony in her voiceovers that she actually steals the show from Gru at several points in the movie. Gru's daughters are both sweet and self-sufficient, and the Minions are, well, Minions. Either you're going to laugh out loud at their antics or you're not. (But I guarantee your kids will be laughing at them, whether you do or not. So, you know, you could always just laugh at your kids laughing at the Minions.) Themes of respect, kindness, family loyalty, and parental joy are evident throughout. These themes make for excellent reference points when teachable moments occur in your family's real life.
I liked the original Despicable Me movie, so I expected to like Despicable Me 2 as well. What I didn't expect was to REALLY like it, which I did. And to find that screening it in my home would attract enthusiastic family members from all generations—ages 8 to 50. This is a film that "suits" in the movie business call a "four-quadrant hit," which means that pretty much anybody in your home will enjoy watching it. Overall, this is a complete family movie that's easy to recommend.
The Blu-ray edition of Despicable Me 2 also comes with plenty of extras, such as a companion DVD and Ultraviolet Digital Copy. There are also three Minion mini-movies as part of the extra features (don't miss "Training Wheels"!). And, more fun for parents that kids, there are several very interesting "behind-the-scenes" featurettes including interviews with Steve Carell and Benjamin Bratt, and a "how it happened" short about the creation and design of the big, purpley Evil Minions.
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