July 11, 2013

Kids will enjoy 'Despicable Me 2'


---- — If you loved the original “Despicable Me,” you’ll probably love “Despicable Me 2” too — just a little bit less.

The sequel brings back the main characters from the original, headlined by Gru, formerly a mad genius bent on world domination, now a gentle adoptive father to three precocious young girls: Margo, Enid and Agnes.

Steve Carell, with a goofily effective Eastern European-ish accent, once again provides the voice of Gru, who is unfortunately less interesting as a good guy with occasional dark impulses than he was a bad guy with hidden recesses of goodness.

The one-time international scourge has given up diabolical plans — like kidnapping the moon — and wants nothing more than to provide for his family, and construct a profitable jelly and jam empire.

Given Gru’s past relationship with the dark side, however, he’s considered a valuable resource by the Anti-Villain League and is recruited to fight evil.

Kristen Wiig, who voiced Miss Hattie (head of the orphanage) in the original, gets a juicier part here as AVL agent Lucy, who provides a sweet, competent and slightly daft foil — and potential love interest — for Gru.

“Despicable Me 2’s” story is extremely thin, even as far as animated movies go. Gru and Lucy are assigned to go undercover at a mall and find out who is up to no good. Is it Ken Jeong, proprietor of a wig shop? Benjamin Bratt as a portly restaurant owner?

The film relies heavily on the cuteness of Gru’s adorable, yellow, gibberish-spouting minions — soon to have their own movie — who bounce across the screen having wacky, slapstick fun (including a couple of musical numbers), even through the closing credits.

“Despicable Me 2” doesn’t have anything in the way of subtle humor aimed at grown-ups, and it recycles a lot of gags and gimmicks from the first film.

Still, the movie will likely hit a bull’s-eye with its target demographic, who will no doubt demand stuffed minions of their own. All according to the evil plan for world domination ...

Rental Recommendation: Steve Carell also had relationship issues in “The 40-year-old Virgin.” Grade: A-minus.

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"Despicable Me 2"

Grade: B-

Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Russell Brand.

Rated: PG (for rude humor and mild action).

Running time: 98 minutes.