We start off in Egypt, watching a young family travel through the desert to get a look at the pyramids. A father, mother, and boy on a leash leave the packed car to take pictures. While the mom and dad are busy, they don’t notice the boy slip out and run under some barricades to get to the pyramids. Once they notice, some guards chase him and end up on a stairway that ends. While the boy backs up, the guards do not stop him from falling in time. While everyone else watches in horror, the boy falls and softly lands on the pyramid, which is actually squishy and kind of like a bouncy house. Confused, they watch as he flies off and lands on his father. This leaves everyone in the world wondering what evil mastermind has made off with the pyramids.
It cuts to Gru (Steve Carell) happily walking down the street, whistling. He sees a crying little boy on the street. The little one has just dropped his ice cream on the ground. Concerned, Gru takes out and blows up a balloon, turning it into a dog. Overjoyed, the little boy hugs his new toy. Suddenly, a pin appears and pops the balloon animal. Gru, satisfied and throwing his pin away, wanders off, laughing. He goes into a coffee shop and, perturbed by the massive line of people, takes out his freeze ray and freezes everyone in line ahead of him. He calmly walks up to the frightened barista and takes his drink and donut while leaving a tip in the jar. While in his massive car/vehicle/transportation device he gets a phone call from Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) saying how sorry he was about the pyramid thing (he is obviously not the one who stole it). He travels to his house, a rather dark and ominous looking place. Getting out, his neighbor starts some small talk. Gru tells him that his dog is leaving little piles on his lawn. While his neighbor responds that “Dogs go anywhere they want!” in a joking way, and Gru says back “Not a dead one!” leaving the neighbor shocked and scared for the rest of Gru’s response. Gru then says “Kidding!” and walks away, leaving his neighbor staring at him, speechless.
Upon entering his house, he wanders into his living room sees his “dog,” a mangy and monstrous looking creature, sleeping on the couch. He moves it and tries to enjoy his snack when he gets a phone call. His mother (Julie Andrews) congratulates him on the pyramid heist that she is watching on the news. He has to tell her that he did not do it, which leaves her upset at him as always, leading us to believe that she never really believes in him or his work. He goes back to his (now empty) donut bag and a missing dog. The dog ends up biting his arm and holding on while he hears the doorbell ring. He goes to the door and without opening it asks who it is. Three young girls Margo, Edith, and Agnes are outside wanting to sell cookies. They go back and forth while Gru pretends that he is an answering machine and not a person at the door. The only one who believes him is Agnes because she is the young, sweet one. Before leaving Edith kicks the door, which travels through and hits Gru. They all go their separate ways and Gru tells Dr. Nefario to get his minions ready for an announcement.
We see the three girls heading back to their house, Miss Hattie’s Home for Girls, an orphanage. When they return they ask Miss Hattie (Kristin Wiig) if they got adopted yet, and she rudely responds that they, of course, did not. She then asks them if they made their cookie quota. They think they did well, but not in Miss Hattie’s eyes. She tells them that next time they do so poorly they will go back into the Box of Shame (a cardboard box with an eye slit). They sadly walk back to their room, talking about their future family with a sweet dad and a beautiful mom.
Back in Gru’s house, Gru travels to his lab deep beneath his house. While traveling down a tube from the living room, he passes by some of his minions (adorable little green alien things in overalls) that start to run to the meeting spot. It is almost a humongous celebration with all of the minions waiting for Gru to arrive, and when he does they go wild. He starts talking about everything they have accomplished in the past, like stealing the giant monitor from Times Square and the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty! Well, the last two were mini versions from Vegas, but they still stole them! After some celebration, Gru talks about his new plan… to steal the moon. When they accomplish that, they can get anything they want! Dr. Nefario is a little upset, telling Gru that there is no way they will be able to afford it. Gru puts a smile on and says that he can do anything because the bank loves him and he’ll easily be able to get a loan.
Gru travels to the bank by entering a men’s room and scanning his eyeball, making the walls move aside. He enters, revealing the spacious, red colored hallway and sitting area. The receptionist tells him to wait for Mr. Perkins to see him. While he sits down to think of his spiel for guaranteeing his loan, a strange man in an orange jumpsuit with a bowl cut and large glasses tries talking to him, saying he is the next supervillian. While Gru tries to scoot away from him, Vector (Jason Segel) says that he is going places and he just invented a piranha gun that shoots live piranha at people. Not impressed at all, Gru is happy when the receptionist calls him over.
Gru tells his story and his plan to Mr. Perkins (Will Arnett). While he agrees that the plan is good, he is less than enthusiastic about it because Gru is not the best villain. He tells him that he has so many plans, yet very few of them ever seem to work out. Mr. Perkins says to look at Vector. Vector is a new villain and he has already stolen the pyramids of Egypt! This leave Gru shocked and confused, wondering “…… That guy???” He then tells Gru that he is just getting too old, and that he’ll think about giving him a loan if he actually has the shrink ray he plans on using on the moon in his possession.
We cut to some scientists bringing an elephant out of a cage. They use some sort of ray gun on it, which shrinks the elephant to the size of a small toy. While they celebrate, they don’t notice the flame cutting into the ceiling. All of a sudden, the ceiling falls in and a small crane operated by one of Gru’s minions enters and picks up the shrink ray. They watch in panic while they can do nothing to stop it. Gru’s minion laughs and lifts the crane up, slamming his head into the ceiling. He tries to escape 2 more times before it actually works. Gru and his minions laugh as they make off with the shrink ray. All of a sudden, a similar flame cuts into their ceiling and a crane comes in and yanks away the shrink ray. Shocked, they look and see the culprit outside the window in his own getaway plane: Vector. Gru fires guns and rockets after Vector’s plane, yet he evades each one. Finally, Vector gets out and stands on top of the plane, pointing the shrink ray at Gru’s plane. Gru and his minions end up getting out before it completely crushes them, and they wimpily fly off, Gru muttering “I hate that guy…”
Gru tries to find his way into Vector’s hideout (complete with a poorly camouflaged pyramid in the background), but after trying and getting punched, slammed, and blown up by every available trap, he figures that the place is impenetrable. He hides and watches as Margo, Edith, and Agnes make their way up to the door. Gru laughs as he figures they will never get in. Vector realizes they’re selling cookies and he opens the door. Gru is shocked and wonders how they did that. He realizes that the girls can get him into Vector’s hideout, which can get him the shrink ray back.
Gru disguises himself as a dentist and travels to Miss Hattie’s Home for Girls. As she looks up his record (that the minions are upgrading as they speak) and sees that there are no blemishes, and is in fact very good, complete with Nobel Prizes and being knighted by the queen. He tells her that ever since his wife… er… Debbie, passes away, he has a hole in his heart that can only be filled with children. She starts to seem like she’s not going to let him adopt, when he suddenly asks her if she knows Spanish. She says no, and he tells her that she has a face “Como un burro.” She is delighted and starts squealing; she obviously does NOT know the language because if I was told I had a face like a donkey, I would not be happy. She gathers the girls and tells them they’re getting adopted. They are extremely excited and wonder if the father and mother are just like they dreamed of… and then they go out to see Gru waiting for them. Yet again, Agnes is the only one excited and grabs onto Gru’s leg and does not let go. Giving up on trying to get her off, they head home.
Margo, Edith, and Agnes get to the house. They realize that he is the one who pretended to be an answering machine, and yet again he tries to blow it off. He shows them their space in the kitchen (a bowl of candy, a bowl of water, and a newspaper for pee pee and poo poo) and tells them not to touch anything. He also says not to bother him while he works, and not to make any annoying noises like burping or sneezing or coughing (or Agnes’s noise, which she asks if it is annoying). Edith wanders off and sees an iron maiden, a trap filled with spikes. Gru sees the doors closing on her, and runs after her. The girls and Gru see a red liquid spilling out of the trap, and while the girls freak out, Gru says “Eh. The plan can work with two.” Suddenly Edith says something, and Gru opens the door. She says “You owe me a new juice box” because hers got stabbed. He tells them to stay while he works. The “dog” comes into the room and growls menacingly at them. They ask what kind of dog it is, and Gru says he has no clue. Agnes squeals and runs after the dog, now scared and running away from her.
While Gru disappears, the girls decide they want to watch TV. They grab the remote, and suddenly a tube appears in the middle of the room. They go into it and transfer themselves into the laboratory where Gru, his minions, and Dr. Nefario are working on plans to get the shrink ray back. Dr. Nefario shows Gru his inventions, including a drink that makes gravity go away. A minion drinks it and starts floating out the window. Dr. Nefario mentions that he meant to close the window, and that so far the drink doesn’t make gravity come back at all. The most important one being cookie robots that Gru plans on using to get the ray back. Then, he sees the girls and asks them why they didn’t listen. They play with some things, including a disintegration ray that makes Agnes’s unicorn, well, disintegrate. She is upset and demands a new one. Gru says no, but Agnes holds her breath and faints until he says yes. Finally, Gru tells his minions to go get her a new one.
While three minions dress up as humans (as best they can) to get a new unicorn, Gru sends two more minions to keep the girls occupied while they work. They continue working and then much later, Gru walks into the room where the girls are. They are throwing toilet paper everywhere, and Gru is not happy. He sends them to bed without a story or anything and tells them to watch out for bedbugs and monsters in the closet. Agnes is scared and suddenly sees a tall monster enter through the darkness. It is only the minions, back with a unicorn (a toilet brush with a face drawn on and an ice cream cone glues on). She says it is perfect and goes to sleep.
The next day, Gru tells the girls that they are going to deliver cookies. They come out dressed in tutus, telling him they will, but after ballet practice. They argue back and forth. Gru tells them that if they go they have to walk because he will not drive. They begin walking and Gru keeps reminding them he will not drive and that their walk will not be fun. Next thing you know, Gru is sitting with a bunch of other moms waiting for ballet practice to be over with. Agnes dances over with a ticket to their recital which is in a few weeks. Grudgingly, Gru takes it (much to the delight of the mothers sitting with him).
They leave practice to deliver cookies. Against Margo’s alphabetical schedule, they go to Vector’s house first and easily get in. While Vector is paying the girls, he pours out a box of the cookies into a bowl to enjoy them. He is distracted by the girls and does not realize the robot cookies leaving the bowl and disarming his security. They go into the vault with the shrink ray and make a hole in the wall for Gru and two minions to enter. They get the shrink ray and begin to leave, but the robots have already fixed the wall back up. In a very comical scene, they try to escape Vector’s lair without getting his attention. His shark notices them leaving, but luckily Vector does not, and they leave.
Gru is ecstatic to get the ray back and says they’re going home. They pass an amusement park along the way and beg Gru to let them go. Gru denies their request at first, but then thinks that he can get rid of them by leaving them on a roller coaster and going away. The girls get on and Gru attempts to make his escape, but is stopped by the ride attendant who says they can’t ride without an adult. He has to get on, and after a crazy ride, he is not feeling very good at all. They all walk around until Agnes finds an extremely fluffy unicorn as a prize for winning a game. The attendant tells them all they have to do is knock down the spaceship and they win. After two tries, one of them finally hits the ship, but it doesn’t knock down. Gru argues, but the guy says that it’s still up and makes fun of Agnes’s sad face. Gru gets angry and says “OK… My turn…” He pays the man, takes out his own gun, and fires, blowing up the stand and the spaceship. Terrified, the man gives her the unicorn and hides. They all walk away rather happy with themselves.
Dr. Nefario and Gru test out the shrink ray on a minion. He shrinks down to a size where he can fit in the palm of another minion’s hand. They are all ecstatic, even the shrunken minion.
Gru finds himself growing closer to the girls and does more things with them. He even reads them a bedtime story about kittens. He finds it atrocious and horrible, wondering how that passes for literature. However, when he’s done, the girls are asleep. Agnes wakes up asking for a good night kiss, but Gru says no and walks out.
Now that Gru has the shrink ray, he sets up a video feed with Mr. Perkins to discuss funding for the trip to the moon. He sets up his presentation papers and goes through them. When he gets to one the girls drew up, he and Mr. Perkins are shocked when Gru hears the girls laughing. He runs after them, leaving Mr. Perkins. They go back and forth until finally the girls zap him with his freeze ray. Everything iced up but his head, Gru goes into the video feed’s site and tries to explain to him what’s going on. Mr. Perkins has heard enough and tells Gru that even though he has the ray, he is too old and out of date and will never fund him again, leaving Gru dejected. He thinks back to his days as a kid, where he was obsessed with building a rocket to the moon. Each time he tried building something new, his mother was never impressed (even when he built a scale rocket that worked).
Upset, Gru gathers his minions to tell them that they are not being funded and, thus, will never get to the moon. He feels a poke on his back, and it is the girls with their piggy bank in hand. They give it to him, and suddenly all of the minions start giving him money for the moon fund. Excited, they all get to work.
Gru tries to juggle his work with his work as a father figure, and goes from tea parties to laundry (mixing a pink tutu with a white space suit is not a good idea) to working in the lab. Dr. Nefario tells him that he has to watch it, and that he cannot let distractions interfere with his plan. They only have 2 weeks before the moon is in alignment. When Gru mentions moving the date back, Dr. Nefario asks him if it has anything to do with the girls’ recital falling on the same night. He tells Gru he doesn’t want to do anything drastic to keep him focused.
We go to Mr. Perkins in his office. The receptionist tells him his son is here, and in walks Vector. He is telling Vector that he gave him the idea for the moon heist for a reason, and that he blew it away by letting Gru steal his shrink ray back. He shows Vector a picture of Gru with the shrink ray. Also in the picture are the three girls. Vector sees this and tells his dad that he has it under control.
While Gru is playing with the girls, the doorbell rings. He answers it and it is Miss Hattie. She tells him that she got a call saying he wanted to return the girls. He turns around and sees Dr. Nefario standing there, looking serious. He agrees and Miss Hattie tells the girls to gather their things. While they do that, Miss Hattie tells him that she got a Spanish-English dictionary and proceeds to slap him with it. Sad, the girls go into the car, wanting an explanation from Gru. He doesn’t have one, and he can only watch as the car drives away. The girls spend their time in the Box of Shame while Gru gets back to his work. The minions work at ridding the house of any sign of the girls, including a very sweet drawing at the bottom of his family tree. After his picture, they drew their own pictures, but it is now gone.
The big day is finally here for both Gru and the girls. As they get ready for their recital, they look out into the audience, wondering where he is. The instructor tells them to get ready, and they beg her for more time. She obliges and walks away. In a dramatic scene, Gru sets up his spaceship. A minion asks him about the recital. Gru shoves it off, but the minion sticks the ticket in his pocket before the rocket goes up into the sky. Suddenly, Vector appears with a squid gun, shoots it up, and sticks to the ship. He gets shot up into the air and travels to the cockpit where he tries to break down, but is shocked and falls down to the earth. He gets out his parachute, but ends up landing in some electric lines and gets shocked again. When out in space, Gru succeeds in shrinking the moon. He picks up his trophy and leaves it in the palm of his hand. He admires it when he sees something pink floating next to him. He stares at the ticket and realizes that he can make it back in time if he hurries.
The girls step out onto the dark stage, still looking for Gru. At the same time, Gru is rushing to get to the recital. He ends up wrecking entire streets with his spaceship, but he makes it at the building. He runs in, only to see the custodians cleaning up. It was over. Upset, he walks over to the seats, one of which has a sign that says “Reserved for Margo, Edith, and Agnes’s dad” along with some pictures. He looks at it depressed and he turns it over. His eyes get wide and he runs out of the building. The paper lands back side up on the floor. On it are the instructions “Bring the moon Vector”
Meanwhile, Dr. Nefario is back at the lab with the minions. The minion that was shrunk started seizing, and suddenly grew back into his normal size. Confused, Dr. Nefario does some tests. He looks at the results and suddenly shouts “We have to warn Gru!” Getting on his scooter, he guns it and moves off… Unfortunately the minions walking are faster than the scooter, but hopefully they will get there.
At Vector’s lair, Gru slams on the front door. A screen pops up, showing Vector and the girls trapped in some sort of glass cage. He says they will talk once he gets the moon. Gru takes it and puts it into a holder, which gets transported to Vector’s hands. Gru demands he gets the girls back, but Vector declines. An angry Gru starts trying to break down the front door. Vector sends heat seeking missiles after him, and in something completely uncharacteristic of Gru’s previous experiences, he agilely evades each one, and they end up destroying the entrance. Vector, shocked, sends sharks after Gru. After punching them away, Vector is nervous and starts up his escape pod. The top of his lair starts to fly away. Seeing this, Gru climbs up the poorly camouflaged pyramid and grabs hold of the ship. He cannot get a good hold and ends up letting go.
Luckily Dr. Nefario had Gru’s ship directly beneath him, so Gru simply landed in the cockpit. Gru wonders why his ship is big again, and the doctor explains that the shrink ray is not permanent. The bigger an object, the quicker that object goes back to its normal size. We switch over to Vector’s ship, where the moon starts to grow. The girls try to get Vector’s attention, but he does not turn around. That is, until the moon starts slamming around the ship, growing bigger by the second. Gru can only watch as Vector’s ship starts violently rocking. The girls’ prison breaks after the moon slams into it, and they run for the exit. Gru shoots an arrow to get closer to the ship, and the two are attached. The girls watch him shout for them to jump. Margo exclaims “Why?!? You gave us back!” Gru says it is the biggest mistake of his life and that this time, he will never, ever let go. Edith and Agnes make the jump and Gru safely takes them, handing them to his minions to get back in the ship. Just as Margo is about to jump, Vector grabs the back of her shirt and takes hold. Gru can’t do anything but watch as Vector takes her back into his ship.
Suddenly, the now even larger moon slams into him, shooting Margo out of his hands and onto the rope connecting the two ships. Gru climbs onto the rope in an attempt to get her, but the moon reverts back to its normal size, destroying the ship and taking Vector along for the ride. Both Margo and Gru fall down. Gru grabs hold of her and luckily the minions form a chain to grab onto the both of them. They get safely pulled back onto the ship while Vector gets taken to outer space. Lucky for him, his jumpsuit is also a space suit. Looking back at Earth, he sighs and exclaims “Oh poop…”
He starts to put the girls to bed when they ask for a bedtime story. Instead of the kitty story, Gru brings out a new book about a unicorn (written by him). The story goes on as a unicorn, obsessed by work, suddenly has three little kittens in his life (Edith exclaims they look like them, only to have Gru say “That is silly. These are kittens, not children” and continue). The unicorn makes a mistake by sending the kittens away, but at the end he finally has them back. The unicorn realizes how special they are because they have changed his heart. He tucks the girls in and walks out of the room. Suddenly he comes back to give each of the girls a good night kiss. Before he can kiss Margo, she shoots up and hugs him, saying that she loves him. He hugs her back and repeats “I love you” back to her. When he leaves the room, all of the minions are waiting for their kisses. He has to oblige and goes through the entire line of minions.
We end up in a theater where Gru has the girls perform in their own dance recital, with a full audience of Gru, his now very proud mother, Dr. Nefario, and the minions. They start to dance ballet when a minion takes control and starts to play some disco. Everyone ends up dancing, including Vector on the moon and Gru (who has some hidden dance moves besides the ninja moves from before). To end the movie, Gru and the girls walk onto a platform that raises them into the air, where they finish their night staring into the bright, full moon.
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