In the first Despicable Me (2010), hardened criminal Gru (Steve Carell) transformed before our eyes from a tough guy into a softie all by the uncomplicated, pure love of three little girls. By the end of the film, Gru formally adopts the orphans and vows to turn around his life.
In this sequel, Gru remains a doting father and has traded hanging with jailbirds for handling jelly, calling himself "a legitimate businessman." However, when Gru's best friend and business partner, Dr. Nefario, decides to return to a life of crime, Gru must stand for what he knows is right as a role model to his children.
Detective Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) is an attractive undercover agent who convinces Gru he'd be noble to help her rid the world of a mutating serum that makes the sweetest of living things turn into killing machines once they're injected with it. She's been tipped off that someone at the shopping mall has the mutating serum and needs Gru's help to find which shop owner has it.
There is action, a plot to save the world and a whole new cast of characters, yet the best parts of Despicable Me 2 are still Gru's children and the zany yellow minions. Seeing tough, dark Gru juxtaposed with his three sweet daughters is still the best part of this franchise. The minions speak either French or Japanese (or both - I'm not sure), but they have the comedic chops of Scooby Doo. We don't laugh because of what they're saying, but because of the way they say it and how they react in different situations. I wasn't surprised to see something about "auditions for minion movie" at the end (Not sure the minions can carry a whole film, but hey, it's worth a shot).
Despicable Me 2 is rated PG for scary scenes and several romantic plotlines. When the serum is injected into bunnies or, later, minions, they turn into extremely scary creatures for children under 6. Throughout Despicable Me 2, Gru's daughters look for a mom figure, and his friends try to set him up. There are several love fantasies; even Gru's eldest daughter experiences her first love and then heartbreak. The love messages are definitely PG themes for younger children. My sixth grader really liked Despicable Me 2, but take away the daughters and the minions, and Despicable Me 2 wouldn't be nearly as good.
Kid Focused Grades for Despicable Me 2
Compelling story line - C+
Strong message - C (not much substance)
Leading character is a role model - A
Sexual content - C+ (a storyline throughout is about finding single-dad Gru a girlfriend. His daughter dates, etc.)
Language and Violence - B-
Suited for the whole family - B (not for kids under 6)
Overall Kid Focused Grade: B-
Despicable Me 2, Rated PG
Running Time: 1 hour 38 minutes
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Julie Samrick is a stay-at-home mom of four young kids and the founder of Kid Focused, a site devoted to children and family issues. Subscribe to the free Kid Focused newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox. If you enjoyed this post, "Like" us on Facebook for updates on more posts like it. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.