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(NECN: Erick Weber) - Three years ago, a little animated film featuring a supervillain and his supercute servants sneaked into theaters with limited fanfare.
But by the end of its run, "Despicable Me" had banked some $543 million worldwide. This July Fourth weekend, Gru and his mirthful minions are back in the sequel, "Despicable Me 2." Let's make the Final Cut.
Steve Carell returns as the voice of Gru, the bad guy turned softy, putting his stealing-the-moon days behind him, content to raise his adorable adopted daughters, Margo, Edith and Agnes in suburbia.
But Gru's quietude is interrupted by the Kristen Wiig-voiced Lucy, an agent from the Anti Villain League, a shadowy group hunting down a dastardly criminal flying around in a spaceship shaped like a supersized magnet, making off with research labs and whatnot.
Though it's the minions we came to see, and "Despicable Me 2" delivers on that end. The goggle-eyed goofballs pop up throughout in vignettes: basking on an island beach, singing all-for-one songs and going all Village People at the close.
The minions steal the show - when they're not around, "Despicable Me 2" is flat, edgeless, and frankly pretty darn dull, totally disappointing given the standard set by the ingeniously-clever original. "Despicable Me 2" cards a just-passing Final Cut score of 78 percent.
The long holiday weekend is huge for Hollywood, a five-day frame that kicked off Wednesday. Let's roll the projector.
The minions will monopolize the top spot behind huge buzz and a massive promotional push by Universal and an army of partners. "Despicable Me 2" should deposit $120 million in the bank by Sunday night.
The weekend's other new release, Disney's $250 million remake of "The Lone Ranger," is in huge trouble. Horrible reviews and zero buzz for the Johnny Depp western: come Monday, we could be talking about the biggest tank job of 2013.
"The Heat" has a lock on third place as the Boston-shot Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy buddy cop flick continues to own the female demo.
And Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx get a patriotic bump after "White House Down" had a disastrous opening weekend.
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