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Despicable Me 2 had a lot to live up to; its predecessor grossed over $540 million and was a massive hit amongst critics and audiences. Sequels should always be approached with some caution, but this one manages to retain the sweet, zany brilliance of the first Despicable Me outing, and should thrill even the most restless kids without boring the parents accompanying them.

The plot of Despicable Me 2 finds Gru, the lovable villain-turned-goodie voiced by a pitch-perfect Steve Carell, settling into his new life as a father and all-around nice guy. The happy family is disturbed by the arrival of agent Lucy Wilde (voiced by the ever-hilarious Kristen Wiig) and the Anti-Villain League, who kidnap Gru and persuade him to join their forces to help catch a bad guy in disguise at the local mall. The story sees romance blossoming between Gru and Lucy, while the Minions are up to their usual mischief. All the while, Gru’s daughters are starting to grow up, with the oldest daughter Margo (Miranda Cosgrave) getting her first crush and little Agnes (Elsie Fisher) remaining as heart-wrenchingly adorable as ever.

The plot is largely unimportant in this fast-paced 3D caper; the gags come quick and feel largely effortless, with the Minions pulling the most delighted laughs from younger audience members while older viewers will appreciate the witty dialogue. Despicable Me 2 is consistently entertaining; a difficult achievement when it comes to animation sequels, and it doesn’t beat its audience over the head with repetitive jokes that may have worked well in the first film, but would bore by the second. Russell Brand is as ridiculous as ever as the conflicted Dr. Nefario, and the additional supporting cast of Benjamin Bratt, Steve Coogan and the very funny Kristen Schaal all fit comfortably into the mix. Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud have finally proven that sequels don’t have to be lazy or disappointing; Despicable Me 2 is truly a joyous celebration of what family film can offer.