Following the success of its 2010 predecessor, this charming sequel begins with Gru (Steve Carell), now a suburban dad caring for his feisty, adopted orphan girls: Agnes (Elsie Kate Fisher), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), the oldest, who's becoming interested in boys, a complication Gru can't quite deal with.

Having left malevolent moon-theft behind, Gru needs a new profession. Jelly and jam making? Probably not. Just in time, he's back into criminality when super-secretive Anti-Villain League's Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan) recruits him to catch a dastardly mastermind who has stolen a secret serum that turns innocent critters, like bunnies and minions, into killing machines. Determined to catch the culprit before major mutating damage occurs, Gru goes undercover in a shopping mall, teaming up with spunky, lipstick taser-wielding AVL Agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), who has followed his criminal career over the years. There are numerous suspects, including Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt), a cook in the Mexican restaurant who resembles a former nemesis believed to be dead. Once again, the mischievous, gibberish-chattering, goggle-eyed, yellow-skinned Minions steal the show, obviously preparing for their own spin-off movie.

Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio's wacky, warm-hearted script is directed by co-creators Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin, who dub the minions' voices. Superb casting is what makes it all tick. Using an exaggerated Eastern European accent, Carell (TV's "The Office," "Date Night") captures Gru's every nuance. Too bad Russell Brand's mad scientist Dr. Nefariom has less to do this time around. And while Javier Bardem and Al Pacino were considered for El Macho -- Pacino even recorded the part -- Bratt is convincing.

Illumination Mac Guff's 3D animation is amusing. Mac Guff is a French visual effects company, based in Paris and Los Angeles; its name stems from the term MacGuffin, which was popularized by Alfred Hitchcock.

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On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Despicable Me 2" is a sweet 'n' sticky, yet solid 7. And keep your 3D glasses on through the credits to get the most from the minions.