Francesca Rudkin is an entertainment reviewer for NZ Herald.

Movie review: Despicable Me 2 (+trailer)

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The tiny, yellow, genetically mutated Minions were the stars of 2010's Despicable Me, and they're back in this enjoyable follow-up.

With the same writers and directors as the original, this sequel stays close to the formula that made the original fun for kids and parents.

The great cast of voices is again led by Steve Carell as Gru, and they bring the wacky, angular characters to life in tandem with bright, crisp animation that pops nicely through 3D glasses.

Second time round there's not the same originality, but new characters are in the mix, there's a touch of romance, and the Minions' expanded role sees them become raging, purple furry beasts.

Good versus evil is again the heart of this story, although super-villain Gru (Carell) has embraced his new good-guy and loving father routine.

His underground lair is now used for his latest scheme, making jam, under the watchful eye of resident mad scientist Dr Nefario (Brand), and the goggled-eyed Minions.

The jam-making goes on hold when Gru is pulled back into the super-villain game by the Anti-Villain League, which asks for his help to identify another evil villain threatening to take over the world.

Although Gru is unhappy working for the good guys, he does get to work with new AVL recruit Lucy (Kristen Wiig), who is overly enthusiastic, ungainly, feminine, and deadly, and Wiig's voicing of Lucy captures her positive spirit perfectly.

Gru is smitten and, like Carell's 40-Year-Old Virgin, has little idea what he should do about it. Worse, Gru isn't the only one with romantic feelings; he must deal with his eldest daughter Margo's (Miranda Cosgrove) first crush. Not that there's much time for dating when there's an evil mastermind to uncover.

And thank goodness for the miming, giggling, party-loving Minions and their give-anything-a-go attitude.

Among the mix of family dramas, and evil action-packed shenanigans, it's still the Minions who are the most memorable and deliver the most laughs.

Stars: 3.5/5
Cast: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Russell Brand
Director: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Running time: 98 mins
Rating: PG
Verdict: Less despicable, but a wacky, colourful, solid sequel.

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