Despicable Me is the sort of title that begs the question: why is there a sequel? We’ve seen so many solid movies turned into franchisees that simply can’t hold up to increasingly far-fetched sequels. And while the original movie proved surprisingly charming, Despicable Me was by no means one of the great and often referenced masterpieces of cinema. So what makes Despicable Me 2 worth the price admission? The fact that it one of the rare good sequels.
It seems a rather odd comparison, but throughout the movie, I kept thinking of the Kill Bill duology. Despicable Me 2 continues Gru’s story seamlessly, making it feel far more like the next chapter of the same story instead of a completely separate volume. It strengthens the first movie, ties up a few things more neatly (though leaving plot holes of its own), and brings the entire story to a much more lasting conclusion.
The story picks up with Gru leading a non-villainous lifestyle of inventing jam and parenting the three girls. Yet when the Anti Villian League tries to recruit him, it’s clear a missing piece is falling back in place for the former villain. His delight over a chance to break out his insane weapons for something other than blowing up balloons shines through amazing voice work and animation. Gru may have given up his evil ways, but it’s clear that mundane life has been a struggle. Oddly enough, there doesn’t seem to be much indication that Gru wanted to return to his life of misdeeds…just the thrill of freeze rays and the adrenaline of being in the middle of the action.
Which is why I would defend this as a necessary sequel. When we first met Gru, he was a cross between a brilliant inventor and a bungling thief. Through the course of the movie, he comes to realize that there is more to life and that maybe, he doesn’t actually want to be a bad guy. He sets aside his ambition to be a villain and becomes a father instead. Despicable Me 2 brings the story full circle, giving Gru another, honest channel for his wackier side. And in a subtle, unremarked on twist, he proves much, much better at fighting crime than he was at committing it.
Once again, the animation and voice acting was excellent with Kirstin Wigg doing an amazing job as new character, Agent Wild. There were a couple plot point I felt got dropped a bit quickly, and a few moments I thought they took the plot a little too far over the top. I’m also on the fence on whether or not giving the Minions more screen time was a good choice. They are certainly funny, but by the end of the film, I felt their parts added more randomness than laughs to the movie. And, quite frankly, even if you had cut the Minion moments down by half, Despicable Me 2 would have still be the funniest movie I’ve seen this year.