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Going into "Despicable Me 2," I was afraid the Minions – the little. yellow. pellet-shaped creatures who got the biggest laughs in the first movie – would take over completely.

Turned out I was right. And good thing they did, because otherwise there would be nothing entertaining in this animated sequel.

If you don't recall, the first "Despicable Me" focused on Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), a supervillain whose plot to steal the moon was sidetracked when he met three orphaned sisters – Margo, Edith and Agnes – who stole his heart and turned him away from evil.

Gru and the girls are back this round, in which we discover that Gru without evil doesn't have him much of a personality at all.

Oh, Gru has stuff to do here. Besides being a good dad to the girls, he is being recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help track down another supervillain who has stolen a supply of serum that can transform timid creatures into ravenous purple monsters.

Gru is partnered with an eager rookie AVL agent, Lucy Wilde (voiced by Kristen Wiig), and together they go undercover at a shopping mall where the supervillain is believed to be working.

Gru suspects the villain might be Eduardo (voiced by Benjamin Bratt), the portly salsa-dancing Mexican restaurant owner. But Gru's judgment may be clouded by the fact that his daughter, Margo (voiced by Miranda Cosgrove, has a crush on Eduardo's smooth-talking son, Antonio (voiced by Moises Arias).

But the plot is just an excuse for screenwriters Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio to trot out the Minions every few minutes. In one scene, they're giving a 21-fartgun salute to Gru's departing assistant Dr. Nefario (voiced by Russell Brand). In another, they're forming a fire brigade that's more destructive than the fire they're fighting. And, even later, they're performing hits from '90s boy bands and '70s disco stars.

Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud (who also provide the Minions' mumbly voices) turn "Despicable Me 2" into something that's not so much a sequel as it is a set-up for a new all-Minions franchise. The fact that a Minions movie (hinted at in the closing credits) is due next year just confirms that Gru has become merely a turtlenecked stepping stone to those ambitions.

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'Despicable Me 2'

The former supervillain Gru gets pushed aside in his own movie, overtaken by the funnier Minions.

Where • Theaters everywhere

When • Opens Wednesday, July 3.

Rating • PG for rude humor and mild action.

Running time • 98 minutes.

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