out of Five
Running time: 98
Like its predecessor, Despicable Me 2 is a watchable but ultimately disappointing animated comedy, thanks to a weak central performance, a plodding, frequently lazy script and a depressing lack of decent laughs.
What's it all about?
Co-directed by Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin, Despicable Me 2 is the sequel to their 2010 hit and stars Steve Carell as inexplicably Russian-accented supervillain-turned-family-man Gru, who has given up madcap schemes to take over the world in favour of a jelly and jam-making business and being a full-time father to his three adorable adopted daughters, Edith (Dana Gaier), Agnes (Elsie Fisher) and little Margo (Miranda Cosgrove). However, when the MI6-like Anti-Villain League recruit him for a top-secret mission, he finds himself teamed with goofy secret agent Lucy Wilde (Kristin Wiig, who voiced a different character in the first film) and sent undercover at a local mall in order to foil a dastardly plot involving his own Minions.
As with the first film, Despicable Me 2's biggest problem is that Gru simply isn't likeable or funny enough to sustain our interest; this time round he doesn't even have the supervillain-to-nice-guy trajectory to make him interesting. In its place, ostensibly, is a potential romance between Gru and Lucy, except that the lazy script doesn't bother trying to make that work, so it falls horribly flat (Gru being hopelessly smitten with an oblivious Lucy might have worked, but that's not what happens here).
A large part of the blame for Gru's relative failure as a character lies with Steve Carell's uncharacteristically lazy central performance, which is overly reliant on a not-very-funny accent. That said, the supporting cast are more fun, particularly Wiig, who's rather charming as Lucy, and, of course, Miranda Cosgrove, who's as flat-out adorable here as she was in the first film, even if she doesn't get a line that's the equal of ‘IT'S SO FLUFFY! I'M GONNA DIE!’
The animation is brightly coloured throughout and there's a smattering of invention in some of the throwaway gags (such as in the rumoured death of a fellow supervillain), but the pacing drags considerably and the plot never really comes to life. In addition, the script is depressingly low on actual laughs and consistently labours under the delusion that the Minions are the funniest thing ever, padding out several minutes with repetitive gags that fall painfully flat (Minions singing songs, Minions bumping into things, etc).
Despicable Me 2 is a disappointing sequel that's primarily let down by an unfunny central character and is further scuppered by a lazy script and a general lack of laughs. That said, young children will probably get more comic mileage out of the Minions than discerning adults. Watchable, but not as much fun as it thinks it is.