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An unexpected animated hit in 2010, Despicable Me grossed more than $540 million and becoming the 10th-biggest toon film in history. So it was a no-brainer for Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment to come up with a sequel for the worldwide blockbuster this summer, touting it as “more minion madness.”
Charming, unique and family friendly, Despicable Me saw would-be villain Gru’s heart filled by three adorable orphan girls. In Despicable Me 2, the tagline is “When the world needed a hero, they called a villain.”
The follow-up finds Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) converted from stealing the moon to goodness and suburban life. As a doting father, he has repurposed his plethora of scary inventions in order to keep his three adopted daughters entertained.
Meanwhile, Gru’s gibberish-spouting, goggle-wearing yellow minions are plugging away as wannabe babysitters and busy developing a line of their master's delicious jellies and jams. Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) returns as Gru’s assistant, but it's clear he misses doing villainous acts, so that becomes a plot twist.
Kristen Wiig, who voiced Miss Hattie in the first movie, returns but in a different role, as secret agent Lucy Wilde. Gru’s love interest and ideal mother for the sisters Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Kate Fisher), Lucy represents a secretive organization called the Anti-Villain League, which seeks to recruit Gru.
“Yes, I have been recruited by a top-secret agency to go undercover and save the world,” Gru tells his girls.
Edith asks, “You're gonna be a spy?”
Gru, who had reluctantly agreed to help, replies, “That's right, baby! Gru's back in the game with gadgets and weapons and cool cars!”
Gru must set up an undercover operation in a mall cupcake shop while tracking El Macho (Benjamin Bratt), a former villain whom fatherhood has forced into semi-retirement, and while managing a Mexican restaurant at the mall.
Gru must save the world by keeping the so-called PX41 serum, which can turn innocent creatures into indestructible monsters, from falling into the wrong hands.
Along the way, homage is paid to Despicable Me, including the super slow-mo avoiding-missiles scenes and another large great white shark.
Despicable Me 2 is far from a faith-based animated toon, but this comedy features wholesome and positive messages about the goodness of adoption, parenting, marriage and being a family. The family-friendly animated film, though, could have used less potty humor.
Too bad there isn't another sweet prayer scene like in Despicable Me. Here's hoping that there will be one in the minions' feature, which is in the works. Don't miss Despicable Me 2's end-credits “audition” sequence.
Content Watch: Just like its predecessor, Despicable Me 2 is rated PG for rude humor and mild action. There is some slight potty humor and fart gags, and some minions are shown as androgynous cross-dressing jokesters with naked backsides. In terms of violence, the mutation-spawning PX41 serum turns people and creatures into ferocious monsters, which could be scary for kids 5 and under. The minions also turn purple and snarl and bark threateningly. A human is transformed into an enormous and extremely dangerous-looking monster with wild hair and huge teeth. Other scenes of violence have a strong element of slapstick, such as when the hero is struck by a car. He is not injured, and the scene is very much played for comic effect.