Following the success of the excellent Despicable Me, Illumination Entertainment follow up their debut feature with this highly anticipated sequel and once again prove themselves worthy Pixar adversaries. With the last outing ending in harmony with Gru (Steve Carrell) and his three adopted daughters living happily ever after it was perhaps hard to see where a second installment could come from. The story this time around relies inventively on the Anti-Villain League who are looking to recruit Gru to utilise his knowledge to track down a villain who has stolen a secret arctic research base and created an evil chemical used to turn people and animals into ravenous killers. Initially he refuses but after his assistant Dr Nefario (Russell Brand) quits due to missing the evil life Gru takes the offer from the AVL and is paired with agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) who confides that she has always admired his work as a villain, particularly his moon stealing stunt from the first film.
After being posted to the local mall where the chemical has been tracked, Gru and Lucy’s cupcake shop is visited by mall restaurant owner Eduardo who Gru suspects is actually super villain El Macho who was supposed to have died riding an explosive laden shark into a volcano to prove his invincibility some years earlier. Despite his hunch, upon breaking into the restaurant they find no evidence of the chemical and instead another mall shop owner is arrested by the AVL and Lucy is reassigned to a post in Australia. Having grown close, Gru is upset that Lucy has been reassigned but he does not have the confidence to tell her how he feels.
Having been invited to Eduardo’s Cinco de Mayo party Gru finally uncovers his secret lair and he reveals himself as El Macho. Gru is offered a job alongside El Macho to become a villain once more and discovers that Dr Nefario’s new post is as El Macho’s assistant. The now good Gru refuses and leaves the party only for Lucy, who has fallen in love with Gru during their time together, to be kidnapped by El Macho setting up the big finale.
Whilst film number two cannot live up to the lofty heights of the first there are still all of the winning elements here to create another great laugh out loud heart warming film that everyone can enjoy. The minions are given a larger role (look for them to be front and centre in a spin-off called Minions in December 2014) without dominating proceedings and despite Gru being nice for the entire film he is still an excellent leading man.
The girls are less important this time around but Agnes is still incredibly cute, particularly in one of the early scenes where Gru is let down by the hired fairy princess for her birthday and has to deputise in a pink dress. Playing along as if he has pulled the wool over her eyes, once her friends have run along she whispers to Gru “I know it’s you Gru, I’m just pretending for my friends”. It is bits like this that make the Despicable Me films stand out in the non-Pixar world of animated features.