Movie Review: Despicable Me 2

Movie: Despicable Me 2 (Pierre Coffin, 2013)
Oscar Nominations: Best Animated Feature

So, if you've seen the first Despicable Me movie, you know it's an oddly charming film about a villain who ends up changing his ways due to three little orphan girls. They get a bizarre but well-meaning father, he gets a family that isn't a side effect of trying to steal bigger and better things, and everyone lives happily ever after, more or less. Also, there are small yellow pill-shaped minions with whom he has a surprisingly healthy employer/benevolent dictator relationship. He knows them all by name, gives them reasonable work benefits, and if they're all a bit silly -- well, Gru is too. The minions are an inspired creation, by the way, and while Steve Carell's voicework and the story itself is sweet and cute and smart enough to be worthwhile, the minions and the small touches they add are really the best and most memorable parts of the film.

Despicable Me 2 picks up not all that long after the first movie left off, with just enough time for Gru and his adopted daughters to settle into their lives together. Gru gets recruited by a heroic organization to help track down a horrible chemical that transforms living beings into ravenous monsters. He's assigned an overeager young agent named Lucy as a partner (who's both useful and annoying) and -- well, let's just say that love and family win in the end.

Just like in the first movie, the visuals are awesome. The running joke of the minions might have fallen flat in a second movie, but the director (who also voices the minions) keeps it going without making the mistake of focusing solely on them and ignoring the rest of the film. I could wish that the movie didn't end up damseling Lucy by the end, but she's not the only one, so I suppose that's acceptable. The little girls are sweet, the ongoing fascination in these films with fabric textures is impressive (seriously, the knitted garments are everywhere and they're amazing), and it's funny without being cloying or dumb. It's not the best kids' movie ever, but it's far from the worst. I don't know that I'd pick it for best animated feature, but I'd be secretly kind of pleased if the little yellow guys walked away with an Oscar. Definitely worth seeing, though, no matter what.

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