Genre: Fairy Tale Running Time: 1 hr. 38 min.
Release Date: July 3rd, 2013 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud Actors: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Ken Jeong, Steve Coogan, Elsie Fisher, Dana Gaier, Nasim Pedrad, Kristen Schaal
t PZ-Labs, a top-secret research facility in the Arctic Circle, a giant magnetic aircraft swoops down from the sky to literally suck the entire building up off the ice and away into the night. Meanwhile, supervillain cum fatherly guardian Gru (Steve Carell) barbeques a meal and coordinates the arrival of a fairy princess for little Agnes’ (Elsie Fisher) birthday. Although the party actress doesn’t show up, Gru has his mutant dog and horde of little yellow minions to perform a magic show and create other distractions, stalling so he has time to don a pink dress. Grue must simultaneously contend with annoying neighbor Jillian’s (Nasim Pedrad) attempts to set him up on a date.
The next day, Gru is abducted by Anti Villain League agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) and taken to an underwater headquarters to meet superior Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan). He informs Gru of the strange disappearance of the arctic lab and its development of a powerful transmutation serum called PX-41, which could be devastating in the wrong hands. With Gru’s previous experience and expertise as a supervillain (he currently experiments with the manufacturing of various jams and jellies instead of plotting elaborate heists), he’s asked to go undercover at a shop in the mall (called Bake My Day) to root out the criminal mastermind behind the significant theft. But Gru is now more concerned with caring for his adopted daughters, having retired entirely from evil scheming. When his partner Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) accepts a job with another mad scientist, Gru is finally tempted to get back in the game by working for AVL as a spy.
The humor this time around isn’t nearly as juvenile as before, with much of it based on quick snapshots of immaterial gags – such as flashbacks, daydream asides, and visualized backstories. A new, maturer concept of romance enters this story, both for Gru and for daughter Margo (Miranda Cosgrove) – whose attempts to acquire a boyfriend are thwarted by her father’s overprotective instincts. A large portion of the film dwells on the budding relationship between Gru and Lucy and the hypnotic effect it has on both parties. A far more involving conflict crops up when Lucy is scheduled for a new assignment in Australia; instead of mild predicaments, the idea of Gru losing his true love represents a relatable, consequential conflict.
Although realism was never a strong point for this franchise, the explicit disregard for sensibleness, especially in transitioning events (such as Lucy diving out of an airplane when she changes her mind about a flight, or her jujitsu assault against a stack of cupcakes), is unusually amusing. There’s also plenty of slapstick-filled misadventures and helium-voiced jargon from Gru’s signature, capsule-shaped sidekicks. And the attention to comedic action is higher, with a world domination plot (featuring an overly simple solution), maniacal minion mutants, funnier and funnier characters to combat (making use of exaggerated stereotypes), a shark strapped to a rocket headed for an active volcano … and an unpredictable attack chicken.
– Mike Massie