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Video Reviews

Plugged In Rating
Content Caution
MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Comedy, Animation, Kids
Cast
Voices of Steve Carell as Gru; Kristen Wiig as Lucy; Benjamin Bratt as Eduardo/El Macho; Miranda Cosgrove as Margo; Dana Gaier as Edith; Elsie Fisher as Agnes
Director
Pierre Coffin (Despicable Me) and Chris Renaud (Dr. Suess' The Lorax, Despicable Me)
Distributor
Universal Pictures
In Theaters
July 3, 2013
On Video
December 10, 2013
Reviewer
Bob Hoose
Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2

It hasn't been easy, but Gru is adjusting to his new life.

I mean, just figuring out a while back that he wasn't really rotten to the core was a difficult first step, one that hit him like a photon death ray. After all, training to be the most megalomaniacal meanie ever takes a certain dedication. And then there's all that investment in diabolical contraptions and dastardly thingamajigs. It's not like he can just put that lot up on eBay and get his money back.

But, hey, when it's right … it's right. And Gru—the former supervillain who once swiped the moon and left the world screaming while he postured and mwoohahaed—has come to grips with the fact that he's really a softy down deep. He's an average, bald-headed mastermind who simply loves being a dad to three completely adorable adopted daughters.

And he's getting the swing of things, too. He knows the ins and outs of helping with school projects and kissing everyone goodnight at bedtime. His army of gibberish-spouting, goggle-wearing, yellow minions have successfully rejiggered his manufacturing plant from creating fearsome inventions to producing jellies and jams (though having the Mad Scientist who invented the so-called "fart gun" as your taste tester isn't always a win-win).

There is another sticky situation at hand, though, one that has Gru grimacing grimly. And, no, it's not just Margo's interest in boys or that nosey woman who's incessantly trying to set him up on dates. This is serious, folks! It's a big little something called the Anti-Villain League.

This secretive group wants Gru to track down the evil perpetrator of a fiendish heist. In fact, the Anti-Villain League is seeking a furtive fugitive felon who filched an entire arctic research lab to get his mitts on a transmutation serum that can turn innocent creatures into indestructible monsters. It's the kind of plot Gru himself might have cooked up not long ago. And it's a plot the Anti-Villain League thinks Gru can foil.

But does Gru really want to go out and fight crime? Hmmm. He's not so sure.

There are a few potential advantages, of course. First off, the girls really like the idea of their dad being a secret agent. Then, he would get the chance to break out a few of those old gadgets of his. And there's that lanky agent Lucy Wilde he'd be teamed up with. She's a little obnoxious and overbearing, but when she starts throwing those karate chops and zapping people with her lipstick Taser, it just makes Gru go all weak in the knees. (Especially when she's aiming all those chops and zaps at him!)

Well … the kids have been telling him he ought to date more. Maybe this is the best way to go about it.

Positive Elements

The positive changes we see in Gru are all thanks to his daughters. He loves them completely and is even ready to humiliate himself if it will mean that a daughter's birthday party is a smile-filled success. The girls love him sincerely in return. And even though a concerned Gru does the slightly overprotective dad thing and lightly discourages the idea of eldest Margo falling for a handsome youngster she meets, Margo never wavers in her love for her father.

In fact, this animated comedy is packed with some sweet messages about the fundamental goodness of adoption, parenting, marriage and the whole positive impact of being a family.

[Spoiler Warning] Gru eventually falls for Lucy. He's smitten by how loving she is and how well they work together as a team (both in their super-agent assignment and with Gru's girls). Young Agnes is especially delighted with her new mom and publically announces the fact. And when Gru and Lucy kiss after their wedding ceremony, we're given the impression that this is the first time they've ever done so.

Sexual Content

The Twinkie-like minions that infest the Despicable Me movies mostly come across as male. (Maybe it's their ardor for massive mischief that makes it seem so.) And that's why we'll note here that some of them dress in feminine outfits. One wears a grass skirt and sea shell "brassiere," while others don a French maid costume or a dress and pigtails. Another wears a fruity headdress like Carmen Miranda. At times, outfits fall off or are ripped off, leaving the embarrassed minions trying to cover up their featureless fronts. A minion drops his towel, exposing his bare backside (which is anatomically correct).

When a fairy princess is a birthday party no-show, Gru "nobly" puts on the costume. He gets set up on a date with a woman who sports pouty, puffed-up lips and a bit of cleavage. Meanwhile, Gru's young daughters are a bit too savvy about online dating.

Violent Content

Silly and ridiculous thumping, bonking and zapping rules the roost as Gru stumbles into his role of secret agent, as his goofy minions bumble along behind him. Young children may be upset when those minions start disappearing one by one, taken away to who knows where. And while Gru is generally a reformed baddy, heartbreak returns him briefly to his cruel ways.

While setting up an undercover operation in a mall cupcake shop, Gru spots a restaurateur who reminds him of a notorious villain named El Macho. Of course that can't be, since Gru recalls (and we see) that El Macho rode a large shark into an erupting volcano with 250 pounds of TNT strapped to his chest. (It's a big nod to action-movie destruction.) Elsewhere, other comically violent biff-bam-boom moments include minions dressed as knights thumping each other with clubs and a mace, followed by a misguided magic trick involving a chain saw. Gru is hit with a Taser that knocks him out cold, and soon after he's stuffed forcibly into a small car trunk. 

The mutation-spawning PX41 serum is given to a rabbit, which immediately morphs into a large, purple monster that attacks a lab tech, teeth bared. An army of minions is given the same drug with similar results—they run wild and raving, chasing the good guys. One of those yellow fellows is duly transformed and then proves his indestructability as bullets, flames and bombs bounce harmlessly off him.

El Macho charges after robbers with his hands full of throwing knives. Gru's date is thumped around a bit after being knocked out by a tranquilizer. Lucy decides, quite unexpectedly, to leave a jetliner in midair; so she pulls the emergency exit switch and just jumps out. An off-camera explosion thumps a few minions into a metal door where they leave a full-body imprint. An armored car driver gets knocked out cold with a punch. Explosions go off in the big finale. 

 A "guard chicken" pecks Gru in the face. He's kicked in the crotch by a boy. He's hit with flames and darts while trying to infiltrate a secret facility.

Crude or Profane Language

We hear an exclamation of "Crikey." An unfinished "What the …?" hangs in the air. A joke is made of a man's name, substituting "sheep's butt" for Ramsbottom. A reference is made to someone "pooping."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Lucy knocks out Gru's obnoxious date with a moose tranquilizer dart. She and Gru then carry the woman out of the restaurant, telling others that she had too much to drink. El Macho drinks tequila spiked with snake venom. A minion imagines going on a romantic rendezvous and swigging champagne straight from the bottle.

Other Negative Elements

When looking for a booby trap, a character spots it and calls out, "Ha! Booby!" After an attack, a porta-potty door swings open to show its frightened occupant. The minions send a friend off with a "21 fart-gun salute." El Macho is brought low with a gaseous blow.

Gru encourages his dog to urinate on a neighbor's rose bush, which instantly wilts. Gru gets Agnes to lie for him. Edith steals coins from a mall fountain. And Lucy drives recklessly, forcing pedestrians to leap for cover.

Conclusion

Following up a surprise success at the box office with a sequel can be a real challenge. And that's especially true when the main joy of the original was watching a cute trio of innocents melt the icy heart of a maniacal meanie and transform him into a doting dad. I mean where do you go from there? After all, you can't make the once despicable guy dastardly again, right?

Right. And Despicable Me 2's creative team wisely shies away from even considering that tack. Instead they make their reformed rogue into a hero for justice. He's a protective father turned uncomfortable do-gooder who fights the baddies with his own insider knowledge—all the while championing familial love with an even bigger hug.

This pic has an avalanche of goofy yellow minions bonking and pratfalling with Three Stooges-like glee. And it's rich with fun characters who all vie to, uh, steal any given scene they happen to be in. But the sometimes frantic comic violence will dismay a few families (even in this age of seismic cinematic superhero smackdowns), and a bit of off-color humor leaves marks too. (This time around, we get androgynous cross-dressing jests and naked minion backsides, gaseous gags and poo-poo giggles.)

These annoyances aren't exactly, well, dispicable, but they do peck away, just like Gru's fowl opponent, at this otherwise delightful film's family-affirming moments.

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