The first film, even if I more or less ignored it, was a success – and the little minions became very recognisable in pop culture through a whole lot of marketing. So of course a sequel followed – with a spin-off starring those minions apparently planned. Of the many animated films released, Despicable Me seemed to me to suit a sequel well – it finished on a satisfying note, but Gru was left being a father and of course that leads to a whole lot of questions about how his life will be.
And those rich seams are what gets mined here, of course. Gru is a great dad, putting on a real show at his youngest’s birthday party, and the neighbourhood ladies are desperate to set him up with one of their single friends. Meanwhile, he leaves behind his life of crime – until the Anti-Villain League rope him in to be their undercover agent, searching for a mysterious serum that can turn the most innocuous creatures evil and vicious. Of course, Gru is given a female partner who is a match for him, countering his weaponry and yet also making similar klutzy mistakes.
The two of them are set up in a mall to investigate various suspects, and Gru thinks he recognises El Macho, the brilliantly manly villain thought to have met his end skydiving on a shark into a volcano. (Brilliant.) Investigating his Mexican restaurant, of course Gru’s little daughters encounter El Macho’s suave, floppy-fringed, charming little son, and the eldest has her first crush – much to Gru’s paternal horror. Meanwhile, Gru’s minions seem to be mysteriously disappearing and an old ally who left the fold hopes that Gru will return to his villainous ways in time for the plan to reach fruition.
Like its predecessor, it’s unambitious and straightforward stuff, but very very enjoyable and silly. The minions are more central this time, but remain well-positioned between annoying and cute and don’t outstay their welcome. And once again it’s the fact that Gru himself is so likeable that makes the film work. It’s so easy to root for him and yet to enjoy seeing him make a mess of things as well. Margo, Agnes and Edith, the little girls with old ladies’ names, once again steal many a scene and while the scale of the final setpieces doesn’t quite match going to and shrinking the Moon, in terms of visual complexity it’s extremely impressive.
I laughed far more than I expected to, and actually felt it a shame that many will no doubt dismiss yet another animated sequel as an inferior rehash when if anything, it was more entertaining throughout. Well worth seeing.