By Owen Gleiberman
Updated July 12, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT
DES-LICKABLE ME? The lovable Minions enjoy a treat in this animated sequel
Credit: Illumination Entertainment

Gru, the bald and beetle-browed rascal hero of Despicable Me 2, is an infectious imp — as voiced by Steve Carell, he?s like Uncle Fester with the personality of Nikita Khrushchev. But in the first Despicable Me (2010), he was a supervillain with a grand plan (he wanted to steal the moon), and in the surprisingly toothless sequel, he has been neutered into a boring nice guy. The co-directors, Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, create a seductively tactile computer-animated landscape in which gentle slapstick rules the day. For some reason, though, they have mostly left out the flashes of egomaniacal dastardliness that even a movie for kids can thrive on (e.g., the far superior Will Ferrell animation Megamind). Kristen Wiig voices Lucy, the Anti-Villain League agent who has a crush on Gru and recruits him to be a spy. You keep waiting for Wiig to display some of her flaked-out inspiration, but she, too, has been given almost nothing to play but sweetness and light. The best thing in the movie is the army of chattery yellow minions who are injected with a serum that transforms them into gnashing purple beasties. By the end, every child in the audience will want his or her own monster-minion toy. Adults will just regret the way that Despicable Me 2 betrays the original film?s devotion to bad-guy gaiety. C

Despicable Me 2

  • Movie
  • PG
  • 98 minutes
  • Chris Renaud
  • Pierre Coffin