By Laurie Coker

Rating: B

There are simply still not enough kid and adult friendly films out there for my taste. As a grandmother, I am constantly working to find creative and engaging ways to entertain my favorite little people. As my youngest grandchild nears the two and a half year mark, she’s actually getting into watching even 3D movies and my grandson, like me, loves a fine fast paced film. Both of them delighted in the new Despicable Me film, staring the original voice cast and offering some keen vocal additions. I won’t go so far as to say that Despicable Me 2 is better than the first, but it is almost as good and certainly delighted my guests.

We catch up with Gru (Steve Carrell) and his three adopted daughters, Edith (Dana Gaier), Margo (Miranda Cosgrove) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher) and all the little tater-tot-looking minions, leading fairly normal lives. After the coup d’état of evil crimes – stealing the moon – Gru focuses on his girls and his new business of jarring jam, but Dr. Nefarious (Russell Brand) has little knack for creating sweet stuff and decides to find a new evil villain for whom to work. Gru, soon after, is kidnapped by an anti-villain league agent, Lucy (Kristen Wiig) and recruited to help the league stop a man responsible for creating a serum that turns bunnies (and anything else) into crazed creatures bent on doing damage.

Because he is now more tuned into parenting than villainy, Gru seems to falter in his suspicions about El Macho (Benjamin Bratt), a man whose son has an eye for Edith, and who years earlier faked his own death.  Seemingly inept, Gru is sent packing and Lucy, the agent responsible for bringing him to The Anti-Villain League and for capturing his heart, is transferred to the next case. Broken hearted, Gru takes his girls out for an evening and soon discovers he hasn’t actually lost his touch at all.

I have to say, I preferred when Gru was a soft-hearted baddie set on being the baddest, but as far as sequels go, directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud and their masterful animation team delighted with this follow up. The voice cast, many returning from the first film (Wiig voices a different character) makes us love them all over again, and the addition of Bratt, Ken Jeong, Moises Arias and Steven Coogan only serve to enhance this new story. And of course, there are the delightfully silly minions, who make a fun and funny film all the more entertaining and hilarious.

There is enough to please both young and old in Despicable Me 2 and the animation is exceptional, proving that the first was no fluke. From Lucy’s land to water vehicle to the transformation of the minions and from espionage to love, it has it all – and in brilliant, 3D rendered color!  Despicable Me 2 lacks the freshness of story and good versus evil clarity of the first, but still manages to hold its own. The gags, pratfalls and experiences are fresh for Gru and seeing him try to date (in a bad wig) and keep a boy away from Edith is all good fun – stuff to which adults and kids can relate. I am placing a B in my grade book. Despicable Me 2 is indeed a successful second shot at a good thing.

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