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IN SHORT: Those with kids, take 'em!. [Rated PG for rude humor and mild action. 98 minutes]
It has always been the Prime Directive of this site that you shouldn't have to know anything about anything to enjoy what you see on the big screen. You shouldn't have to have read a book or to have seen an earlier movie, and so forth. Despicable Me 2 fails that test. Given that we've seen a couple of hundred other films in the interim, we remembered nothing of the first film. [wait, it gets better . . .]
When push comes to shove, we still had a terrific time watching what is at heart a single-father (of three girl kidlets) comedy. Dad just wants to run his business - making jams and jellies - and the kiddies want a new mommy.
That Daddy was once the evil super villain to end all evil super villains isn't properly addressed in this film - we cheated and reread our old review, so we know. It wouldn't have taken more than a line or two of dialog to bring parental aged old Cranky up to speed and those lines are missing.
Now, there is nothing wrong with producing a 'toon whose aim is to delight six to nine year old children. Add an occasional joke aimed over their heads at the parents in the audience and you've got a big hit. That being the idea, Despicable Me 2 sorta kinda delivers. Yours Cranky sat, just by dumb luck, in a small field of mothers and kidlets and said little ones were bouncing up and down in their seats.
Despicable Me 2 begins with our newly minted hero, Gru (Steve Carrell) being told by his former partner in nefariousness, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), that he (Nefario) wants to return to the fun of the Evil Villain Life. Gru's current path -- as a manufacturer of jams and jellies and father to three Adorables (little girls who run the age range from wishing for a mommy to scheduling a first date) -- is not for him. Without any real sense of how big bald Gru has redeemed himself there isn't a lot for our hero to do but shrug, probably relieved to be out of the Evil Villain business so he wouldn't have to battle his former friend. But no . . .
The Anti-Villains League wants Gru back on the side of the really goodest good guys, to stop a mysterious baddie of the really evil-est type. Said baddie is in possession of some kind of super-soldier serum called PX41, that changes the cute as a button, yellow skinned Minions (voiced by directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud) into mini-purple monsters. When injected into a person sized person, well, that would be telling. But it involves monsters. And purple. And probably a spin off of the minions into their own movie, coming next summer.
Yeah. That's the problem here, not that we didn't have a terrific time watching the film. It's that the filmmakers were so intent on putting the spotlight on the those little yellow whatever the heck they are that this film plays more like a psychedelic trip than a straight forward story. Said story also involves an AVL agent named Lucy (Kristen Wiig) who is partnered with a reluctant Gru. Lucy will eventually commit theft of the biological kind -- parents can explain exactly what she metaphorically steals to their kidlets and, over all, everything is pretty much happy happy joy joy time.
If you've got kids, hey, they've probably been through the Despicable Me video dozens of times. They'll have a great experience. For a grown-up 'toonhead who wasn't lugging kiddies, Despicable Me 2 doesn't surpass its origins. Lonely old (and sober) farts should wait to rent.
Those of you who aren't sober -- you know what I mean -- should stick to the late shows so the kidlets are all tucked away in their beds.
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