Film review: Despicable Me (U)

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Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig should give a big sigh of relief – and thank those Minions for justifying their pay packets.

After all the ingenuity shown in the terrific first 2010 movie, the sequel owes virtually all its moments of hilarity to Gru’s (Carell) little yellow sidekicks – as a tepid story coasts on fumes of the original.

But fortunately it’s those little Minions – with a big helping of cuteness from Gru’s youngest adopted daughter Agnes (Elsie Fisher) – that will still make this high on a family’s summer must-see list.

Top-heavy ex-bad guy Gru is getting used to his new life with his three daughters – now producing eye-watering jam with his Minion employees and Dr Nefario (Russell Brand) – when he is crudely recruited by the anti-villain league (headed by Steve Coogan’s Silas Ramsbottom) to track down a new criminal, by working undercover in a mall bakery alongside agent Lucy Wilde (Bridesmaids’ actress Wiig).

This is where a new adversary is working under an alias – is it Mexican restaurant owner Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt), hairdresser Floyd (Ken Jeong), or someone else? – creating a new toxin that will transform Minions into terrifying indestructible creatures.

Sadly, Wiig’s character is an extremely annoying (and unfunny) addition who – along with the extremely basic padded plot – restricts Gru to the odd gag, and virtually leaves the Minions to provide all the comic relief.

Fortunately they’re fantastic, culminating in a tear-inducing rendition of All-4-One’s 1994 hit ‘I Swear’ – which is worth the cinema admission alone.

Bar that, the franchise has artistically taken one step back but will undoubtedly take one giant leap forward at the box office after the popularity of the first film.

But, just like Puss-in-Boots in Shrek, the Minions will eventually have to go it alone (probably after the inevitable third movie) for the series to survive long term.