First, let me tell you about how skeptical I was about “Despicable Me 2”, the sequel to a charming but less-than-satisfying animation film “Despicable Me”(2010). In the previous story, our ‘despicable’ villain Felonious Gru attempted to exploit three young orphan girls as a part of his grand evil scheme, but, to his surprise, his mean heart was melt by their genuine affection while he tried to assume the role of their foster parent. In the end, he found that it is more rewarding to be a good daddy than a world-renowned supervillain, and he eventually retired from his larger-than-life supervillain career. Therefore, I naturally asked myself when I heard about “Despicable Me 2”: what is the point of making a sequel, if there is not anything worthwhile to talk about because of this completed character arc in the first film?
Well, the good news is that “Despicable Me 2” is as enjoyable as the previous film although it does not feel that fresh. Though the story and the characters are as thin as before, it manages to gives us fairly entertaining moments while trying to move its story into a new direction, and the kids and adults around me frequently laughed whenever a funny thing happened. To be frank with you, I also had some chuckles as tickled by its comic moments although they were not enough to cover my little cranky dissatisfaction remaining in the end.
After adopting three orphans in the previous film, Margo, Edith, and Agnes, Gru(voiced by Steve Carell) has been leading an ordinary life of a single daddy although he still keeps his fancy gadgets and those little yellow sidekicks named “Minions” at his secret lair below his suburban house. He loves his little girls more than before, and we see him trying his best for giving Agnes a really nice birthday party just like any good dad would. The girls also love him and care about him, and they even consider getting a nice date for their lonely daddy though that is the last thing Gru wants for now.
Now as an ordinary good guy, Gru tries to run a decent business, but the things are not easy for him. His minions are still a bunch of loyal but bumbling buffoons, and the strawberry jelly manufactured at his lair is probably the most tasteless one in the world. Dr. Nefario(voiced by Russell Brand), his faithful technician, dearly misses good old evil days of working as a villain’s assistant, so Gru has no choice but to accept Dr. Nefario’s wish to resign from his post when Dr. Nefario says he gets a better offer from somewhere.
But Gru is soon approached by someone, too. Lucy Wilde(voiced by Kristen Wiig), a perky agent from Anti-Villain League(AVL), takes Gru to her boss Silas Ramsbottom(voiced by Steve Coogan), and Ramsbottom asks Gru to help investigating their latest case involving the spectacular theft of a secret government laboratory in the Arctic area. Gru initially rejects this request, but he eventually agrees to help them and starts to work with Lucy, who has been sort of admiring his villainous achievements in the past.
Because it seems possible that the guy behind the case is one of the people running business at the local mall, Gru and Lucy set up a bakery at the mall as their undercover operation spot(its name is ‘Bake My Day’, by the way), and then they look around the possible suspects one by one. While they hang around together, a certain feeling seems to be growing between them, and they have a nice private time together after Gru’s disastrous date forced upon him by his annoying matchmaking neighbor. In addition, it looks like she can be a good mommy to Gru’s girls – and they feel all right with her.
Meanwhile, Gru notices that one of their possible suspects in the mall, Eduardo Perez(voiced by Benjamin Bratt), uncannily resembles El Macho, a legendary badass villain who was supposed to be dead after his daredevil dive into an active volcano. He looks like a jolly chubby guy running a Mexican restaurant, but Gru is very suspicious about him, and his suspicion on Eduardo is further fueled by his personal feeling when he learns that Margo is fallen in love with none other than Eduardo’s son. Gru may look pretty unreasonable at that point to you, but I once witnessed how one of my friends, who has a young daughter, became homicidal when he came to know that a boy showed an interest to his adorable daughter, so I was not so surprised about Gru’s overreaction beyond reason.
As I said already, the plot is weak, and its mystery is solved with little surprise, but the movie keeps its story floated above boredom through its many gags and jokes which are mostly successful. Its animation looks good and colorful enough to be enjoyed by the kids, and the action scenes are fun and exciting, and Gru’s Minions steal the show again with their hilarious moments. I still have no idea about how Gru can distinguish one from the other even though they just look all the same except that 1) they have one eye or two eyes and 2) they look round or thin, but they are nice comic characters as before, and the movie generates more fun by turning them into something purple, hairy, and nasty later in the story.
In an objective view, “Despicable Me 2” is a well-made product good enough to be enjoyed, and I was rather glad to see that it is better than I expected. Nevertheless, considering that I gave 2.5 stars to “Despicable Me” and this animation film is neither better nor worse than its predecessor, I must stick to my damn principle, so my cranky side gives it 2.5 stars for several reasons including being a little too long. My softer side keeps reminding me that I did have a fun with many laughs during the screening, but at least both sides can agree that its 3D effect is unnecessary except when it is used during its obligatory gag scene decorating the end credit.