Despicable Me 2
Animated sequel displays a canny grasp of what its young audience wants
Animated smash hit Despicable Me left its super-villain Gru a seemingly reformed character, the adoptive father to three small girls. Despicable Me 2 sees Gru adjusting to life as a suburban dad and recruited to thwart the villainy he once embraced. Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud return at the helm for this colourfully chaotic sequel, with Steve Carell back as the voice of the lead character.
We rejoin Gru as he attempts to forge a name for himself as a purveyor of preserves. His efforts are somewhat scuppered when he's recruited as a spy for the Anti-Villain League (headed up by Steve Coogan's Silas Ramsbottom) and lumbered with a stringy sidekick Lucy (Kristen Wiig). The pair go undercover at the local mall as they hunt for the mastermind behind the theft of a transformative formula. Top of their list of suspects is restaurant owner Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt), who Gru notices bears an uncanny resemblance to deceased uber-crook, El Macho.
The first film was a winning combination of nasty and nice and there's plenty to like here too. It's exuberantly animated and employs 3D to fun effect. While the script won't split the sides of anyone over ten, Despicable Me 2 boasts ample anarchic energy, disguising the fact that in terms of story and ideas, it's hardly stretching itself. There's lots more screen time for the mischievous minions - voiced by the directors themselves, speaking an entertaining mishmash of languages and gibberish. Carell is reliably terrific, Wiig and Bratt have their moments but Russell Brand is again weak as Dr Nefario and Ken Jeong is wasted as a suspicious wig salesman. But ultimately kids will love it, so if Despicable Me 2 feels like little more than spectacular silliness, it's hard not to admire a film with such a canny grasp of what its young audience wants.
General release from Fri 28 Jun.