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Robert Cartagena is a boxing correspondent for SFBay.ca. He graduated from SF State in 2011 with a B.A. in journalism and spent more than a year contributing monthly articles to The Hudsucker, an online magazine with a blog twist. He has a passion for sports journalism -- particularly boxing -- as well as film reviews. He also enjoys blogging and aspires to be a professional actor one day.

‘Despicable Me 2’: More gadgets, gags and Minion mayhem

Everybody’s favorite bald-headed super-villain is back in the game this summer for an entertaining and charming sequel. Despicable Me 2 is playing in movie theaters nationwide and like its predecessor, it’s full of gadgets, gags and of course, Minion mayhem!

Gru (voice of Steve Carell; center) and his loveable Minions are back in the game in "Despicable Me 2" (Image Credit: Universal Studios/Illumination Entertainment).

Gru (voice of Steve Carell; center) and his loveable Minions are back in the game in “Despicable Me 2” (Image Credit: Universal Studios/Illumination Entertainment).

As the follow-up to 2010’s smash hit Despicable Me, former villain-turned-father Gru (voice of Steve Carell) is called back into action for the sake of all that’s good. It turns out a secret laboratory containing a mutating serum that transforms cute, fuzzy animals into vicious beasts has been mysteriously stolen from near the Arctic Circle. When the Anti-Villain League (AVL) learns of such crime, they send top agent Lucy Wilde (voice of Kristen Wiig) to recruit Gru to use his previous villainous expertise to help thwart the mastermind that has surfaced.

Both Despicable Me films are equally entertaining, but the sequel lacks the originality that made the first film such a commercial success at the box office. The plot was straightforward (Gru attempts to become the world’s greatest villain by stealing the moon), but the film’s clever storytelling made it quite an engaging animated film. In Despicable Me 2, the plot is once again straightforward, but what it lacks in originality it makes up for with a clever script, vibrant visuals and nonstop entertainment, including another delightful performance from Carell as the accent-minded Gru.

Fans of the original film may be disappointed by Gru’s lack of despicableness this time around. That same despicableness from the first film made his character such a treat to watch on screen (I personally loved how deviously he said “Light bulb” whenever he concocted a new scheme). Despicable Me 2 delivers plenty of action and comedy, but it also does a fine job emphasizing the importance of family. While fans may have preferred to see the old Gru back in action, Carell’s performance emphasizes the importance of his character’s evolution since the first film – particularly how well he has adapted to fatherhood since adopting orphan girls Margo, Edith and Agnes. Only Gru would be willing to dress up as a fairy princess for Agnes’ birthday party – and Carell punctuates the scene with a hilarious falsetto. Plus, his response to why “she’s” so fat is priceless:

“Because my house is made of candy, and sometimes, I EAT instead of facing my problems!”

In addition to Carell, the voice acting is stellar in Despicable Me 2. Though she voiced a different character in the previous film, newcomer Wiig’s spunky heroine Lucy is perfect as Gru’s counterpart. She and Carell have great chemistry on screen, not just as partners but also potential love interests. Her exuberance for kicking some villainous butt – as well as her admiration for some of Gru’s previous heists – makes her quite delightful to watch on screen. And like Gru, she’s armed with a few slick gadgets of her own. (“Lipstick taser!”)

Benjamin Bratt is also quite engaging on screen as Mexican restaurant owner Eduardo, who Gru suspects may be the villainous luchador-looking “El Macho.” Bratt’s charisma adds plenty of zest to his character, who, with his lothario son wooing Margo and a deadly guard dog (a chicken named “El Pollito”), becomes quite a threat to Gru.

Reprising their roles from the previous film are Russell Brand as Dr. Nefario, Miranda Cosgrove (formerly of iCarly) as Gru’s eldest daughter Margo, Dana Gaier as middle child Edith, and scene-stealing Elsie Fisher as youngest daughter – and the adorable, unicorn-loving – Agnes. Rounding out the cast are Steve Coogan as AVL director Silas Ramsbottom (heh heh, “bottom”) and Ken Jeong in a brief but hilarious cameo as wig merchant Floyd Eagle-san.

As wildly entertaining as Despicable Me 2 is, it isn’t complete without Gru’s overalls-wearing assistants, the Minions. As was the case in the first film, these loveable yellow creatures – who have quickly become a pop culture phenomenon – completely steal the show with their hilarious antics, including gut-busting renditions of the Chiquita Banana jingle and classic hits “Y.M.C.A.” and “I Swear.” The Minions have definitely become superstars in their own ways and it’s only a matter of time (next December, to be exact) before they (deservingly so) take over the big screen in their own full-length spin-off (aptly-titled Minions).

Despicable Me 2 may not surpass the original, but it is still a great animated joyride that shouldn’t be missed this summer. I personally had a blast laughing and smiling along the way and was very pleased with how it concluded … which brings me to the possibility of Despicable Me 3. Should it happen? Will it happen?

I honestly won’t be surprised if a third film is announced and released within the next two or three years – especially since the sequel has earned over $660 million worldwide. As a fan of both films, it would be great to see Gru, the girls and the Minions back on the big screen once more. But I also believe a third film is unnecessary because of the positive note Despicable Me 2 ends on.

But for now, Despicable Me 2 delivers plenty of family-friendly fun that is guaranteed to entertain moviegoers of all ages – and as an avid film fan, myself, you’re never too old to enjoy good, old-fashioned animation at its best.

Despicable Me 2 is rated PG for rude humor and mild action. Running time: 98 minutes

Overall: B+

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  1. Robert’s Top 10 Films of 2013 | The Hudsucker - December 30, 2013

    […] (Read Robert’s review of Despicable Me 2 here.) […]

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