Honestly, I can do without Gru. In the first Despicable Me, Gru, as embodied by Steve Carell with a weird, Russian/German hybrid of an accent, had a fun arc as he went from diabolical yet humorously incompetent supervillain to doting father of three precocious girls. Despicable Me 2 finds Gru happily established as Dad of the Year, and aside from some business about finding a mom for his adopted brood, the character doesn’t really go anywhere new. Sure, he has some amusing pratfalls, but it gets tired rather quickly. That isn’t to say the movie isn’t entertaining, though this time around it has very little to do with its main character.
Having given up his life of villainy, Gru now is utilizing his considerable resources and army of Minions to start a line of jams and jellies, an endeavor that seems doomed to failure because of Gru’s insistence that the jams contain every single fruit in a single jar. Despite that, Gru is happy in his life, until he is kidnapped by Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) an agent with the Anti-Villain League. (Let me take this moment to say that taser jokes never have been, nor will they ever be funny.) A top secret base (yes, the whole base) has been stolen, and the League wants Gru’s expertise in discovering the identity of the supervillain responsible. Eager for the action of the old days and wanting to impress his daughters, Gru finds himself undercover at a Mall of America-style shopping center, where the League is convinced the culprit is hiding out.
There are some Bond-lite shenanigans as Gru and Lucy investigate a Mexican restauranteur (Benjamin Bratt) who may be El Macho, a supervillain long presumed dead. All of this was mildly fun, but the real laughs come from the Minions, Gru’s legion of little yellow, blobby followers. Speaking in an incomprehensible language, they engage in visual gags that seem descended from the Marx Brothers. The evil plot involves kidnapping the Minions and mutating them into vicious, invincible monsters. The juiced up, steroidal versions of the Minions are an inspired creation.
This is all perfectly fine, but I find that after letting some time pass, the movie didn’t stick with me. It’s like the candy you get at the concession stand; delicious at the time, but not all that nourishing. A lot of talent went into this movie, as it does with all the other big tentpole animated features. I don’t want to discount that, but I really wish films like this didn’t feel prepackaged for maximum profit, bland, safe and easy.