By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Despicable Me 2 is one of those rare sequels that manages to deliver more laughs and entertainment than its predecessor. While I enjoyed the first film, I left this sequel feeling nostalgic as this film obviously channels the spirit of Tex Avery who made his mark with the classic Looney Tunes and the MGM cartoons.  Though the plot doesn’t particularly provide anything brand new in family entertainment; the consistently funny humor more than makes up for this shortcoming.

Since the last film, former villain Gru (Steve Carell) has gone completely legitimate, but has yet to find his new calling, save an attempt at  mass producing jam. When an unknown villain steals a dangerous chemical, the Anti-Villain League seeks Gru’s help in uncovering the person responsible for this crime. Gru, who is now a proud and loving father to his adopted daughters Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher), must juggle his responsibilities as a dad and his undercover work with as a secret agent.

Writers Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul and directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud return for the sequel and offer more entertainment value than the first installment.  The superbly written humor and performances by the voice cast makes for 98 minutes of fun for both children and adults. The kids will definitely love the return of the fun and hilarious minions who often steal the show. I’m not completely convinced that the minions will be able to carry an entire film by themselves which is what the producers have planned for the next installment. However, as supporting characters, these lovable munchkins do manage to provide much humor without wearing out their welcome.

Returning cast members, besides Carell and Cosgrove, include Russell Brand who returns as Dr. Nefario, Kristen Wiig who this time portrays AVL agent Lucy, and Ken Jeong who in this film voices Floyd Eagle-san.  The film also stars Benjamin Bratt as Eduardo Perez, Moises Arias as Eduardo’s son Antonio, and Steve Coogan  as Silas Ramsbottom, the head of the Anti-Villain League. I have nothing, but praise for everyone’s voice work in this film.

Though I did enjoy the humor and the nostalgic feel of the comic material, I couldn’t help, but feel that the filmmakers got a little carried away with ethnic stereotypes, particularly with the Eduardo and Floyd characters.  The material never gets ridiculous or offensive, but some restraint could have been exercised.  Regardless of the slightly annoying portrayal of Hispanic and Asian characters as caricatures, the film still delivers a great time at the cinema that both children and adults will enjoy.

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