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Latter-day Saint screenwriters talk about their movie careers, 'Despicable Me 2'

Published: Thursday, June 27 2013 9:50 a.m. MDT

The main challenge, they said, was coming up with three distinct personalities for the girls. They wanted to portray them as honestly as possible so they felt like real kids, “not movie kids."

“We each have three kids, so they were a huge inspiration,” they said.

The biggest frustration with “Despicable Me” was that it came out the summer after “Toy Story 3.” When comparing the two, many film critics cast “Despicable Me” in an unfavorable light.

Despite the negative reviews, there was a highly positive public response to “Despicable Me.”

“Sitting in a theater surrounded by people laughing, then crying, then laughing,” the writers said. “There’s nothing better than that. … That’s when you feel you’ve actually succeeded.”

‘Despicable Me 2’

Daurio and Paul felt the first film told a complete story, so a sequel seemed unlikely.

But the 2010 film was a smashing commercial success, earning $543 million worldwide, according to boxofficemojo.com, and Universal Pictures wanted another.

“Once we figured out a way to continue the story and take characters to new places, we were onboard,” the writers said.

The sequel, which opens July 3, returns Carell as Gru, who has forsaken a life of crime to raise Margo, Agnes and Edith. But now he must figure out how to provide for his new family. In the process, Gru is recruited by an organization dedicated to fighting evil called the Anti-Villain League to help capture a new bad guy.

The screenwriters said their goal was to not disappoint fans of the first movie.

“And you also don’t want to just repeat everything that worked before,” Paul said.

In addition to Carell, the cast of stars includes Ken Jeong, Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig and Miranda Cosgrove. One of the perks of writing animation is being present at all of the recording sessions, Daurio and Paul said, “to watch these amazing people at work.”

They described working with Carell as “a complete joy."

“He’s a dad, so he totally gets what we’re doing with the character of Gru.”

During one session for “Despicable Me,” the writers said Carell told them how much his son loved the minions and asked if he could possibly come in and record some minion lines just for fun.

“So the next session he was there, proud father, with his son. It was priceless,” the writers said. “We’ve also enjoyed working with comic geniuses like Kristen Wiig and Ed Helms, as well as legends like Carol Burnett and Julie Andrews. There are some pretty amazing perks to this job.”

Formulas and patience

When asked to share their formula for creating family-friendly movies that convey a value or lesson, the writers said they primarily write for themselves. If they find the story to be entertaining and compelling, there is a good chance the audience will be engaged as well, they said.

“We always want the movies to be about something, but we never want them to be preachy,” the writers said. “We also never write them for anyone but ourselves. We just try to make each other laugh or feel something, and that may be one of the reasons our movies have had some success. Once you try to write something just for kids or families, you’re in trouble.”

If there is one lesson that Daurio and Paul have learned while writing in the filmmaking industry, it’s patience.

“These movies take three years to make, so we’ve definitely learned patience,” they said.

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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