Your enjoyment of Despicable Me 2 may depend on how much you tolerate the Minions — that never-ending supply of small yellow workers introduced to us in the 2010 original who serve big boss Gru (Steve Carell, once again doing an amusingly cranky Eastern-European accent). Personally, I dig the cute, goofy freaks, though I heard one critic refer to them as "Twinkies in coveralls." And for those of you who are already fed up with looking at those buggers, you should know they serve a more integral part in this installment than they did in the original.
In the sequel, former supervillain-turned-doting foster dad Gru pulls a Fast & Furious 6 and works with the good guys, as the Anti-Villain League calls on him to track down the mastermind who snatched up a chemical that can turn lifeforms into unstoppable mutant beasts. He reluctantly partners with Kristen Wiig's kooky yet deadly AVL agent, whom he eventually warms up to — and of course, starts getting sweet on. Meanwhile, Gru's little employees are beginning to disappear.
As evidenced by the expanded use of the aforementioned Minions, this sequel appears to be in it more for shits and giggles this time around. Returning directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud keep to a minimum the pandering sentimentality that made the first movie feel so uneven, in favor of getting in touch with their inner Chuck Jones and coming up with a lot of surreal screwball moments. It seems that chaos enjoyably reigns throughout this flick.
Sure, there is still a lot of adorableness going on, mostly supplied by Gru's trio of lovable foster daughters (especially unicorn-loving Agnes). But there is a welcome dose of nuttiness, both visually and narratively, most of which transpires whenever we meet up with Gru's prime suspect, a portly yet suave Mexican-restaurant owner who Gru thinks is the late supervillain El Macho. (He's voiced by Benjamin Bratt, filling in at the last minute for Al Pacino, who ducked out of providing his voice two months ago.) Since the movie is all about maintaining a level of zany yet inoffensive absurdity, this character thankfully manages to be laughably ridiculous without slipping into embarrassing-stereotype territory.
But let's get back to the Minions, who provide plenty of irresistible comic relief in a movie that's already overflowing with it. Despicable Me 2 is not only a sequel, it's also a reminder that the Minions have their own movie coming out at the end of the next year. (They hold 3-D-utilizing "auditions" for that movie at the end of Despicable Me 2.) This may come as bad news for the Minion-haters. But, for the rest of us, bring on more from those yellow bastards!