Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2
    
Director: Pierre Coffin , Chris Renaud
Cert: PG
Genre: Animation
Starring: Steve Carell, Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig
Running Time: 1 hr 38 mins

The latest midsummer family animation struggles manfully with a burden common to mainstream sequels: the denouement that detonates your original high concept. You know the sort of thing. At the beginning of Meet the Fockers we have to somehow persuade Robert De Niro to fall out with Ben Stiller again. And so forth.

The splendid Despicable Me followed a master villain as he softened and agreed to adopt three adorable little girls. At the end, his life of evil ended, the heavily shouldered, impressively bald Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) was living in suburban bliss with Margo, Edith, and Agnes.

Perhaps wisely, the film-makers resist the impulse to propel their anti-hero back towards super-criminality. (It would be unkind to the poor children.) Permanently reformed, Gru agrees to help an international agency in their efforts to stop another maniac distributing a serum that turns otherwise benign creatures into slavering, murderous beasts. Along the way, he meets up with a kooky female agent (Kristen Wiig) and – Hollywood being still nervy about single dads – looks set to fall into something a little like love.

So, the film is just a little like Frasier when Niles starting going out with Daphne and annihilated the series' key conceit. Gru's not even despicable any more, for Pete's sake.


Happily, this matters not a jot. Though jammed-up with too much pointless plot, Despicable Me 2 remains one of the funniest films released this summer. Carell again discovers an effective blend of unconvincing menace and ineffectively repressed generosity. The kids are a hoot and the huge Mexican villain is magnificent in his idiotic delusion.

The film, however, once more belongs to the numerous yellow hench-things that chaotically fail to do Gru’s bidding without launching 11 shades of hilarious chaos. The film-makers are so convinced we love the Minions that, not bothering much with a proper ending, they allow their little stars to close the film with two characteristically silly musical numbers.

No person with a working sense of humour will object.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist