2010 saw the arrival of a new anti-hero to steal the hearts of both young and old alike - and also showed that Pixar could still be challenged now and again with a mixture of great characters, quotable dialogue, glorious animation and - what Pixar does best - a display of substance over style.
Enter Gru and his Minions and millions of smiling audience members and cuddly Minion toys! Now 3 years later, the original cast and crew, with some additions, have returned to challenge evil... and sing about bananas!
If you loved the first foray of Steve Carell's moon-stealing villain (and you should of!), then prepare to be once again entertained - with maybe just a pang of pondering plonked on your popcorn tasting of "what could have been."
The original saw Carell's Gru grow into a delightful father figure from a despicable budget-constrained baddie by the 3 girls he adopts to beat a rival. Here, the journey taken sees Gru try to grow further still by finding that "someone special" to share the role of parent to the less troublesome girls. Maybe that's the pang mentioned earlier about this sequel - one aspect that made the original so charming has moved on, and for continuity and story-telling, that is correct, but it does leave a kind of scratch that can't be itched.
The struggle to deal with whilst keeping his identity secret from the 3 girls was ingenious and apart from the mighty Minions (more on them later) most of the laughs came from the clash of strong, stubborn, single super villain vs 3 strong, stubborn sisters. Their constant battle for supremacy gave us the legendary "It's soooo fluffy I'm gonna die!!!" line. Here, Gru seems to be battling against his own clumsy stupidity and then eventual awkwardness once he realises that he does indeed care for Agent Lucy Wilde (Kirsten Wiig) rather than any other form of comedic relief. Yes, this makes for some fine slapstick and adult recognition of those embarrassing "lovey dovey" moments driven by shy awkwardness from the man who was shunned by girls as a boy. However, it feels just abit tame compared to the original with its adult vs child comedy approach.The step-dad and his step daughters familiarity breeds our contempt perhaps?
Now this may sound like a blasting of Despicable Me 2, but it isn't. The fondness for the first means that the bar was set very high indeed. This bar is met albeit with the pole of Minion mayhem rather than full cast cooperation. The Minions get to take more of the centre stage and this confidence has been shown with them getting their own spin-off movie which is already in pre-production - Minions. Scene stealer's extraordinaire, whether they are hoovering up in a French maids outfit or clambering up the side of a tall building ala the World War Z zombie's terrifying horde, all that they do is perfectly pitched to have both children and adults alike laughing like loons at their antics. If you don't spill your cola or spit your popcorn out at the films finale of "I Swear" then you're either too young to remember the early 90's or you're in need of a defibrillator!
So, all in all, it's fun, frivolous, fine-looking and funny... and maybe a tad forgetful? The kids will love it still but maybe step-parents or those parents who remember the uphill struggles with their offspring may hanker for the comedic foundations of the first foray.
UK release date: 28.06.13