'Despicable Me 2'
Directors: Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin
Voices: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig
3 (out of 5) Globes
It’s tough to settle down in the suburbs after you’ve tried to steal the moon. But reformed supervillain Gru (voiced again by Steve Carrel, with a Bela Lugosi accent) is making a go of it as a single dad to three cute-as-a-button girls, even converting his massive weapons laboratory into a startup business manufacturing jellies and jams. Alas, such a fiendishly gifted mind cannot stay idle for long, especially when the laws of Hollywood economics demand sequels to surprise blockbusters.
The dizzy, delightful “Despicable Me 2” finds Gru recruited by the top secret Anti-Villain League, with eager agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) and her dour commanding officer (Steve Coogan) enlisting our hero’s expertise in tracking down a stolen experimental serum that turns test subjects into fuzzy purple monsters. At first reluctant to be of service, Gru doesn’t really have much choice, given Agent Wilde’s annoying habit of tasering him to get his attention.
Going undercover at the local mall by setting up a dummy cupcake shop, the two target a swarthy Mexican restaurant owner (Benjamin Bratt) who looks suspiciously like El Macho, one of Gru’s former comrades, who was presumed dead after riding a dynamite-covered shark into a volcano on a rocket. Such zany overkill is characteristic of the screenplay by Cinco Paul and Ken Duario, who won’t settle for just one gag when a moment can easily contain three or four more.
So much contemporary computer animation strives for a dull facsimile of photo-realism, but here returning directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin shoot for the classic cartoon hand-drawn anarchy of "Looney Tunes," never moreso than with the Minions. Gru’s diminutive henchmen look like yellow Tic-Tacs wearing denim overalls and steampunk goggles, speak in high-pitched nonsense-talk and keep stumbling into elaborately orchestrated, dialogue-free slapstick sequences.
The storyline grows a bit cluttered with the introduction of a possibly sinister wigmaker (Ken Jeong). But for Gru, what's scarier than any impending plot for world domination is the terrifying development that his teenage daughter has started dating.
Spirited vocal performances from the cast add to the antic atmosphere. The energy level never flags, even though you might wish everybody would stop to breathe once in awhile. Overstuffed with daffy non-sequiturs and not one, but two exuberant Minion musical numbers, “Despicable Me 2” is almost too much of a good thing.