Despicable Me 2 (3 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud (Despicable Me)
Written by: Ken Daurio, and Cinco Paul (Despicable Me, Hop)
Voiced by: Steve Carell, Kristin Wiig, and Benjamin Bratt
The first film took everyone by surprise as a solid hit, with great of word of mouth from audiences. Put three cute orphans, some odd yellow creatures called minions, and a character voiced by Steve Carell, and you get one great film. I was not surprised there was a sequel to this, and there will most likely be a third, the second is raking in money. I just hope this does not follow in vein of Shrek.
The sequel follows Gru (Carell) in domestic bliss with his three young girls Lucy, Margo, and Agnes. Gru puts on a birthday party, is cooking chicken, and even throws on a fairy princess outfit to please the young children, it appears his villain days are numbered. At the end of the party Gru is approached by Lucy (Wiig), captured and brought to the headquarters of the Anti-Villain League (AVL). Gru is asked to join and help them capture someone who is plot turning people or animals purple and even more evil.
The first film took me by surprise, like many others, I remember the trailer and thinking this looks pretty lame. There was something about the first film, a charm, which held me, this villain being changed and his heart warmed, much like the Grinch by these three young girls, which made the first film truly unique. The sequel keeps up the funny/cute/charming aspects, but the novelty was missing. I loved the first film, and I liked this one. There were of course some great jokes for adults, but without Gru balancing the villain and father role the film was not as much fun as the first. There were of course some moments where Gru showed his more fun darker side, but they were not as many.
One of the other elements I like about the series is that Gru is a single dad raising three young girls, and he does a great job, but this film implies he needs a woman or mother to complete the picture. I wish the film would have avoided the "family" agenda. With that said the fun chemistry between Gru and Lucy was great, Wiig was the perfect voice actor for this role. Wiig does just as much voice work as she does acting on screen, and I think this film succeeds because the voice actors add so much to the characters.
Dreamworks is a machine with there films, and see dollar signs more doing more creative projects the way Pixar has done (although Pixar has gotten worse with this lately). I do not want this film series to lose the mojo it has going, so with a third one pretty much guaranteed, please do not let go of the themes, or try too hard the way Shrek 3 did. With any of my minor complaints this film has terrific animation, and just plain cute.