Despicable Me emerged in the Summer of 2010 to surprising success, depicting the transformation of an evil super-villain to the adoptive father of three high-spirited children, Agnes (Elsie Fisher), Margo (Miranda Cosgrove) and Edith (Dana Gaier). It’s no surprise, then, that this month sees the release of Despicable Me 2, uniting the cast under Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud’s direction.
Becoming dissatisfied with his new lifestyle, Gru (Steve Carell) longs for the excitement of his villainy days and the attention of a female counterpart. His dreams come true when Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), an agent and member of the Anti-Villain League, arrives on the scene to recruit Gru in the hopes of bringing down dastardly villain El Macho (Benjamin Bratt).
The sequel, though as sprite and entertaining as its predecessor, is quite clearly lacking in the same level of originality that made Despicable Me such a surprise. It’s not that screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul have provided an injustice to that first film (quite the contrary, in fact), more that it seems to be more of the same, rather than the fresh ideas audiences are constantly craving
Yet that’s not always such a terrible thing, especially considering how warmly audiences responded to those ingredients the first time around, and the fact this sequel has allowed the filmmakers to flesh out and refine that environment, as well as the characters that inhabit it. The humour, too, seems to take into account both adults and children, yet there’s simply far too much of the Minions.
When it’s in the right gear though, it’s fun and brisk, filled with strong, vibrant colours and colourful characters. The animators have done brilliantly in realising the world in which Gru inhabits, and Wiig is a strong addition to the cast, adding her usual exuberant spirit and spiky voice to the already packed environment.
Carell is on top form as Gru, and the trio of Fisher, Cosgrove and Gaier once more steal the show with their childish optimism and witty one-liners. It all adds up to a lively, funny and decent film, yet Despicable Me 2 sadly never quite matches nor surpasses what came before. It’s a disappointment, sure, though far from disastrous and unnecessary.