Craig's First Take: "Despicable Me 2"

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Gru, the girls, Dr. Nefario and the funny little minions are back, along with new characters. Gru is recruited to help the Anti-Villain League, can he let go of his evil ways?
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What began as a crossover between “Looney Tunes”, “Spy vs. Spy” (Mad Magazine), and “Annie” still keeps the family dynamic and hi-jinks intact. Gru (the Russian-accented Steve Carell) is no longer the super villain he once was, now content with raising his three adoptive daughters Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Kate Fisher) while inventing a new type of jam. The Minions still figure into the organization heavily.

Putting back the moon in the last film has brought him to the attention of the Anti-Villain League, and soon he and an aggressive agent named Lucy (Kristin Wiig) are setting up shop in the mall in order to stop a businessman/villain from unleashing a deadly serum.

With his bald-head, hump-back, stiff, and humorless demeanor, Gru is again a perfect straight-man, allowing the zany Lucy, the vacuous single women who wish to date or set him up, adorably literal-minded daughters, and the mall’s many suspicious characters (who Al Pacino was supposedly to voice before he pulled out and Benjamin Bratt took over) to play off him.

But “Despicable Me 2” also has the same sweetness, allowing the awkward Gru a chance at love and to be a protective father figure. Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud (both directed the first) manage to warm the heart while keeping the broad laughs going which they succeed in perfectly like a date that ends in a “Weekend at Bernies” scenario and Gru’s priceless reaction to the kid Margo likes.

Which brings me to the Minions, maybe the best gift animation has given to comedy since “The Simpsons”. These cute little yellow McNuggets with their strange language, facial expressions, love of dressing up in costumes, and constant need for joking around and having fun on the job are a true physical comedy delight. They’re the ace in the hole for this series. Now let’s see what happens next year when they get their movie.

“Despicable Me 2” is a laugh riot for everyone, young and old, but more so it knows what its strengths are, as well as where to build on them