Despicable Me 2 Voices of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt. Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud. Rated PG. Now playing.
The 2010 animated movie Despicable Me was a massive surprise hit, and like many massive surprise hits, it has spawned a sequel that overdoses on some of its freshest, most appealing elements. In the case of Despicable Me 2, that’s the minions, the small yellow creatures who work for reformed super-villain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell). The little guys are all over the new sequel (and will be getting their own spin-off movie next year), which includes a prominent subplot about the creation of evil minions.
As amusing as the minions can be, they aren’t enough to carry the movie, which finds Gru teaming with a top-secret international crime-fighting force to take down a villain known as El Macho (Benjamin Bratt). Although the movie provides Gru with a love interest in his new secret-agent partner Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), the filmmakers have trouble finding an emotional core as strong as they did in the original, when Gru became an unexpected father figure to three adopted girls (the girls’ longing for a mother figure this time isn’t developed as effectively).
The villain showdown is also a bit underwhelming, although that problem isn’t new to the series. Bratt was a last-minute replacement for Al Pacino (dubbing all of his lines to match already finished animation), which might be one reason El Macho makes for a mediocre adversary. Carell remains a bright spot as the world’s most insecure super-villain, and the minions are popular for a reason. After two movies, however, their merchandising potential is beginning to eclipse their entertainment value.