The battle for our home entertainment dollar doesn't get any hotter than it does during the Holiday season as the studios bring out the heavyweights to get the crowds in the stores to empty the shelves, fill up the stockings and make sure that there is no room under the tree. "Despicable Me 2" steps into the ring following up the massive success of the first film following the same basic crowd pleasing mold that almost matches the energy and the wit of the original.
We pick up more or less where we left off from the first film as Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) is settling comfortably into his life of raising 3 young girls and shifting from evil conquests to his new home business of making jam and jelly. That is however, until intrigue comes calling once again and Gru is recruited by agent Lucy Wilde (Kirsten Wiig) of the Anti-Villain League (or AVL) to help them stop a powerful and mysterious new super criminal.
Basically running a fairly similar playbook as the first film, "Despicable Me 2" works as the sweet sentiment of family values, the running Minions gag, some good voice performances and a couple visually eye popping moments that make this a worthwhile experience. With the entire writing and directorial team the film picks up very smoothly with Gru; the homebody and family man. Admittedly the film is a little more rife with the visual gags, as the set up is unnecessary and the narrative takes us into a fair bit of Minion madness who have a more pivotal role this time around. If you aren't necessarily a fan of the Minion's then the film won't reach the emotional highs of the first film as this one is a little more focused on the capers and fun rather than the narrative, but that being said it is still a very solid adventure yarn that kids will easily be able to get behind. Thankfully none of the voice cast are phoning it even though we get a little bit of stunt casting in a handful of parts.
Steve Carell brings his usual scene chewing ability back as the loveably evil Gru who has to deal with the added wrinkle of not only finding love, but a mother for his three adopted kids. Thankfully it's always a B-Story and the actors keep it just under the surface so as not to dull the fun. Kirsten Wiig does a fine job matching Carell note for note and the balance of the ensemble that includes the likes of the returning Miranda Cosgrove & Russell Brand as well as new additions Benjamin Bratt and Ken Jeong do fine with the material that is given to them. However the genuine stars of the film (other than Carell) are the Minions, as the G-rated comedy bits and musical numbers run fast and furious getting audiences primed for the upcoming "Minions Movie", as well as a credits sequence that you simply will not want to miss. It makes for some light, but thoroughly entertaining fair.
The picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are top notch and the special features on this Combo Pack release include 3 new mini-movies, along with a behind the scenes look at the making of those mini-movies, a deleted scene, some character profiles a look at the gadgets and a feature length commentary track with directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin.
Ultimately, "Despicable Me 2" isn't a film that will ever live up to any expectations of being thoughtful animated fare, but it doesn't talk down to its audience either. It's a film that just revels in the simple fact that fart jokes and goofy comedy, if well done, can be funny at any age.
4 out of 5 stars.
"Despicable Me 2" is now available for rent on DVD, Blu-Ray and On Demand from all major providers. You can also find it available for purchase from all major retailers like HMV, amazon.ca and iTunes.