Mischievous minions steal the show
DESPICABLE ME 2 (G)
WHILE I am definitely not the target demographic for animated films, that does not stop me from being an unabashed fan of films that take place in a make-believe world where anything is possible.
Despicable Me 2 picks up where the first instalment left off, with Gru (Steve Carell) having traded his sinister plans for the world in favour of being a doting, stay-at-home dad and creating a line of jams and jellies.
His three adopted daughters, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Kate Fisher) are constantly trying to set Gru up on dates.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Villain League recruits Gru and partners him with a chatty agent, Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), to track down a villain. They subsequently set up a shop in a mall where all the suspects own shops.
From there, hilariously clumsy action sequences ensue.
In the first film, the most memorable aspect was the characters. From Gru's eccentrics to Agnes' adorableness, not to mention the bumbling minions, the film was solid family fun.
The sequel retains most of the original elements, but kicks it up a few notches with the yellow, uber-cute minions.
This time round, Gru's loyal servants get more screen time, as it is literally minion overload right from the start.
Judging by the reactions of the kids in the theatre, they loved it.
In fact, making the minions an integral part of the story ensures that their presence throughout the film does not feel like a heavy-handed attempt to give audiences what they want.
However, the sequel does not reach the heights of the original instalment, as the moral complexities that made Gru such an interesting character in the first film are missing.
Making the villain a protagonist in a children's animated film - as is the case in Despicable Me - is not only interesting, but challenging too. The film managed to pull it off with aplomb, making Gru an intriguing, empathetic character.
In this sequel, Gru's reformed character, while well-intentioned, does not give the protagonist the edge that made him so interesting in the first place.
Nevertheless, Despicable Me 2 never ceases to entertain.
The voice work is especially noteworthy in this film, with Carell outdoing himself as the hunchbacked character whose surliness belies a caring personality.
His attempts to break up Margo and her boyfriend are especially hilarious, while Wiig excels as Agent Wilde.
The film's key message is family ties, and it succeeds somewhat with its Mission Impossible-style plot - weird gadgets and a spot-on, almost-parodical musical score make it a hilarious action film.
In a way, sequels work better for animated films, precisely because anything is possible in that world, such as short and cylinder-shaped kernels that speak in a strange jabber.
Despicable Me 2 opens in cinemas tomorrow.