Saturday, July 6, 2013

More Minions and More Mayhem Keep Laughs Loud in 'Despicable Me 2'

The minions are back for even more slapstick humor and mayhem in Despicable Me 2

What's wrong with being the bad guy fueled by sinister plots of global domination? After all, the perks that go along with being a stereotypical baddie are plenty of worthwhile incentives. Who wouldn't want top-notch gadgets, a decked out secret lair and most importantly an army of minions?

However since Illumination Entertainment's 2010 breakout animated film, Despicable Me, ex-supervillain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) has reformed into a family man, raising three girls (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier and Elsie Fisher) until Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), a high-strung spy abducts him on behalf of the Anti-Villain League to track down El Macho, a villainous face of the past thought to be long gone.

Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud excel in pleasing the fans of Despicable Me with much of the same spy action and slapstick minion comedy seen in the first film only amped up to greater heights for this highly anticipated sequel. But throughout the course of Despicable Me 2,  it becomes obvious that the more action and more comedy the directors inject into the heart of the sequel, the result is simply a  the thinner, slightly weaker installment that's joining this animated espionage franchise.

Again Steve Carell is a blast as ex-supervillain Gru. This time around, he's sided with the good guys at the Anti-Villain League and while Gru drops his villainous persona, Carell continues having fun hamming loads of comedic dialogue thanks to the character's Eastern European accent. Gru has the opportunity to work alongside Kristen Wiig's Lucy Wilde, who one-ups him from the moment they meet, stunning him followed by an old heave-ho into the trunk. The end result of their 90-minute partnership is fairly predictable, however the two successfully emerge an entertaining team in many of Despicable Me 2's ridiculous predicaments.

But when it's all said and done, Despicable Me 2's primary target is whipping out a laundry list of slapstick jokes centered around the pint-sized minions. The minions are by far the highlight of both films. It's almost too simple to take thousands of small yellow guys, have them beat each other over the heads like they're a modern day iteration of Three Stooges or break out into singing pop culture songs substituting the actual lyrics for gibberish, but it works on all accounts. Not only are there regular minions, but there's evil purple minions too eating everything in sight, but are here for a one-time villainous gig. But even with a Minions movie set for 2014, the thousands of heroic loony little guys are here to stay for even crazier antics in future films.

Despicable Me 2 is a visually bigger and bolder endeavor than its previous installment, virtually expanding the world of Gru and his  minions to secret underwater lairs and active volcano death traps reminiscent of a classic James Bond movie fused together with Austin Powers that's specifically directed towards the entire family. While the younger audiences will be wowed by all the vibrant colors and tech-heavy environments, all the smoke and mirrors can't mask the fact that bigger isn't not always better.

There is less emphasis on the importance of family once Gru warmed up to the three girls at the end of the previous movie. Despite being vital to Gru's change of character in Despicable Me, the girls are an afterthought for most of Despicable Me 2 except when the eldest Margo develops a crush for El Macho's suave teenage son. Gru works the motions of being the stereotypical overprotective parent, physically standing in the way of a possible romance between the two.    

While not as fresh as its highly entertaining predecessor, Despicable Me 2 still manages to belt out a barrel of laughs thanks to the adorable minions, but 90 minutes of nonstop slapstick humor is simply one part of what might have been an equally successful sequel.  

GRADE: B+ (8/10)

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