by George Wolf
Three years ago Despicable Me scored at the box office, thanks mainly to a funny bunch of yellow creatures who speak nothing but gibberish.
These “minions” made the film, which was fairly average otherwise, easy to like. It should come as no surprise, then, that Despicable Me 2 trots them out early and often.
At the end of part one, evil genius Gru (Steve Carell) wasn’t despicable any longer, his heart inevitably melted by three incredibly cute kids (yes I realize they’re animated but they remind me of my nieces so whatsittoya?)
This time out, Gru is recruited by special agent Lucy (Kristen Wiig) to help the good guys, in hopes that his bad guy instincts will help ferret out a villain in hiding.
Everybody – writers, directors, most of the cast – returns from the original, but an important piece is missing. Being despicable is what made Gru a character, and taking that trait away also discards much of what makes him interesting. The love story with Lucy isn’t developed enough to fill the gap, so it’s up to the little Twinkie-looking things!
For the most part, they come through. Much like the Madagascar series continues to be hilariously saved by the supporting lemur and penguin characters, Gru’s minions are able to provide the laughs when things start to drag. Without them, kids would be squirming and parents might be thinking of an early exit.
The sum of unequal parts, DM2 is perfectly pleasant, if unexceptional, family fare.