By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Despicable? Not even close.  On the contrary, the animated adventure comedy Despicable Me was anything but.

Dazzling?   Not quite.   But diverting and delightful?   Absolutely.

Despicable Me 2, the inventive and affable sequel to the 2010 original, pretty much matches its predecessor’s charm and impact, not in originality perhaps but certainly in energy and execution.

(2½ stars out of 4)

(2½ stars out of 4)

The narrative picks up shortly after the first installment left off.

Gru, voiced by returning Steve Carell, used to be dastardly and diabolical, a megalomaniacal mastermind of a super-villain who plotted to steal the moon, no less.

But that was then.  Now he’s retired from all that, although he still has his army of little yellow Minions that seem like neurotic cheese curls with the gift of gab helping him with his new — and absolutely legal — business:  manufacturing (yawn) jellies and jams.

Having saved his three adorable adopted daughters from a rival villain, Gru is now a domesticated hero, a full-time papa hosting a birthday party for his youngest daughter.

But then he is kidnapped by secret agent Lucy Wilde, who sounds suspiciously like Kristen Wiig (playing a different character this time), who takes Gru to Anti-Villain League Headquarters, where he is recruited and asked to become a spy and, in the name of national security, help track down a new super-villain who is up to no good planning an elaborate heist in his experimental research laboratory and magnetized spaceship.

Gru –- despite the fact that he seems to be grooving on Lucy — says no.

But, hey… Gru may grow into the gig.

Newcomers Benjamin Bratt, Steve Coogan, and Ken Jeong add their voices to the merry mix, which includes a returning Russell Brand as Dr. Nefario, but it’s the gibberish-spouting Minions who are being showcased for the kids in the same way that Scrat the squirrel dashes obliquely through the Ice Age flicks.

Not that grownups are ignored -– plenty of the jokes are aimed at the chaperones in attendance –- but the miniature Minion-loving minions are the target audience, so it’s no surprise to learn that the Minions have their own movie in the works.

Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud return to their adjacent director’s chairs, working once again from a daffy screenplay by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio that keeps things bouncing along at a stimulating pace, even if their script could use a bit more villain-triggered conflict even as it celebrates silliness in winning fashion.

So we’ll vilify 2½ stars out of 4 for the wiseacre, wackadoodle toon, Despicable Me 2.

Some viewers will find this second helping of cake just a tad too sweet.  Nothing despicable, but…me too.

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