While Gru, the ex-supervillain is adjusting to family life and an attempted honest living in the jam business, a secret Arctic laboratory is stolen. The Anti-Villain League decides it needs an insider's help and recruits Gru in the investigation. Together with the eccentric AVL agent, Lucy Wilde, Gru concludes that his prime suspect is the presumed dead supervillain, El Macho, whose his teenage son is also making the moves on his eldest daughter, Margo. Seemingly blinded by his overprotectiveness of his children and his growing mutual attraction to Lucy, Gru seems on the wrong track even as his minions are being quietly kidnapped en masse for some malevolent purpose.
Directed by: Pierre Coffin
, Chris Renaud
. Starring: Steve Carell
, Kristen Wiig
, Benjamin Bratt
, Miranda Cosgrove
, Russell Brand
, Ken Jeong
, Steve Coogan
, Elsie Fisher
, Dana Gaier
, Moises Arias
, Nasim Pedrad
, Kristen Schaal
, Pierre Coffin
. Music by: Heitor Pereira
, Pharrell Williams
Rarely can critics ever enjoy agreeing with every creative decision taken in a film. This is such a film, superior to its original in spirit and verve. A social phenomenon to uplift a depressed world, DM2 is a surefire babysitteradult-sitter for years to come. My one quibble is its over-expressed toddler-friendliness, something the directors themselves found challenging to comply with.
DM2's music and visuals are particularly delightful. For instance, its "Gangham-Style" dancing (by lipstick-tasered victims) are just hilarious homages to Chuck Berry's guitar-playing and John Travolta's dancing, elevated to a perfect blend of homage, music, and joy, thanks to megastar franchise composer Pharrell Williams. One half of The Neptunes, Williams wrote charting hit "Happy" for Gru's DM2 montage; it's now available online as 24hoursofhappy-com.
The same creative team is back from DM1, ensuring a sensitive sequel tonal change. "It's pretty clear that by the end of DM1, Gru was no longer a villain", claims co-director Chris Renaud, so DM2 concerns itself with the sacrifices of matured fatherly love, beyond merely falling in love with one's children, as Gru had in DM1. In the process, Gru (Steve Carrell) undergoes emotional changes needed to complete his family.
Disappointingly, "fans" of the original charge that DM2 has "no plot" since it's missing "serious villains". In not getting this sequel, they disregard Gru's character arc (business losses, a mysterious villain, the Anti-Villain League, and the minion-nappings) as plot. The prologue comes out the gate like a serious James Bond film, although the film soon begins to wink; by the first act all pretense to real danger is dropped, and the tone refocuses on Gru's put-upon fatherhood. The Disappointed Brigade can therefore be referred to Megamind(2010) and The Incredibles(2004), both of which specifically explored villain battles. The DM franchise explores the reformation of a self-centered guy (villain) via 3 little girls once he began to love them as they needed. Steve Carrell himself is quoted about the future of Gru: "You want this character to soften up and that there would be just this sense of joy and love at the end.....As crazy as this character sounds, and diabolical and mean and awful, there's a humanity to him that comes out in little bits....that's what drew me to (this franchise)".
DM2 cheekily lays bare the challenges of mature dating, especially when pushed by daughters. Both Margo (Miranda Cosgrove) and little Agnes (voiced again by exuberant child actress Elsie Fisher) enjoy being daddy's girls, but Agnes in particular senses the costs of missing a mom. The minions are an insufficient substitute.
DM3 is rumored to be a minion origin feature, but DM2's minions are still a mysterious bunch of naughty little yellow goofballs serving as Gru's amoral army ("humans are just meat to them", explains chief animatorco-director Pierre Coffin). Not actually evil, just dopey, mischievous and always squabbling, they're meant to remind us of annoying but lovable little brothers. Once co-writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio hit upon DM2's plot to turn them truly evil via a secret formula, their Dr-Jekyll-and-Mr-Hyde scenario was gleefully animated with an insider's grin, adapted from old-school (Looney Tunes) short Hyde and Hare(1955)), mashed-up with Rocky and Bullwinkle's Metal Munching Mice(1960), Season2.
Since the main plot revolves around mysterious minion-nappings, the sequel's villainy pivots on what the yellow goofballs turn into: purple, hairy, knuckle-dragging, underbite-sporting, vacuous versions of themselves who cannot speak. Evil minions only do a hilariously dumb, sharp "Baaa!" screech, pointedly recalling the last scene from Invasion of the Body Snatchers(1978).
Pierre "say-'Casket'-instead" Coffin and Chris Renaud, the franchise's sweet co-directors so far, were understandably heavily influenced by cartoon classics: Dripalong Daffy(1957)'s Nasty Canasta is the unacknowledged inspiration for the "tough homber" villain El Macho (sizzling drink, gurgle-gurgle, "Bartender, bartender, WHERE's MINE?"), with added "lucha-libre"Nacho Libre(2006) Mexican wrestling costuming. Renaud's minion-compressor idea for DM2's jar-headed minion was borrowed from Hillbilly Hare(1950); Coffin's fruit-basket minion is a spoof of 1940s popular South American songstress Carmen Miranda; the Afro-wearing beach bartender spoofs Isaac(Ted Lange) from The Love Boat(1977-1987), and the white-overalled, white-jacketed group of minions are spoofing marshmallow 1990s boy-band All For One, whose chart-topping "I Swear" lyric is cheekily minionised by Coffin as "underwear". Last, but not least, the film's wildly energizing closing track YMCA is a minion makeover of THE Village People perennial 1979 hit.
Much of the humour is realised with group scenes sporting "easter-eggs" in their backgrounds. They begin at Agnes' birthday party (a tormenting little boy is re-educated by a clever little girl, and a stumbling woman gets plus-conked with a game ball). Later there's an easily missed 22nd fart gun salute; sundry mock Minion-on-Minion-violence which once gets hilariously out of hand in a vat; and evil minions gnawing each other in cages. Even the climactic villain scene sports an "easter-egg" homage to director Chris Renaud's home town......all very funny.
But there are two fall-down-funny jokes I'll never forget: little Agnes' interpretations of Gru's wild pantomime for pushy neighbor Jillian(Nasim Pedrad), and the entry of two incognito minions to the evil lair using nothing but a raspberry-enhanced password. This latter one is funniest to me personally for a real-world analogue that works equally well! The parental dating subplot is also riotous, satisfyingly skewering society's shallow and obnoxious "bodyproud" women who are only successful in the confines of their own noggin'. DM2 gives its Shannon(Kristen Schaal) character the right-royal "Weekend at Bernie's(1989)" treatment: she's flopped upside down, legs splayed apart, her indignities fully deserved.
A final word about homage: DM2 draws from pop culture going back 60yrs, even referencing Toy Story(1995) itself in Act1, yet it's all done with love and understanding: its homages are "organic" (arising naturally). Unlike other functionally lesser Hollywood creatives, DM2's storytellers never rip off decades of work by others calculatingly. Instead, DM2 so bristles with finely observed behavior in this story of love in all its forms, that it might be termed the Wrath of Khan(1986) of its own franchise.(1010).
Review by lizziebeth-1 from the Internet Movie Database.