Friday, February 7, 2014

Despicable Me 2 Review

Despicable Me was one of Universal Studio's best selling animated features. In fact, it was the highest-grossing non-DreamWorks/non-Disney-Pixar animated film in North America. This lofty title was overthrown by its sequel, Despicable Me 2 (2013). That's worth talking about.
While Gru (Steve Carell) the ex-super villain is adjusting to family life and attempting an honest living in the jam business, a secret arctic laboratory is stolen. The Anti-Villain League decides it needs an insider's help and recruits Gru to the investigation. Together with the eccentric AVL agent, Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), Gru concludes that his prime suspect is the presumed dead super villain, "El Macho" (Benjamin Bratt), whose teenage son Antonio (Moises Arias) is also making the moves on Gru's eldest daughter, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove). Seemingly blinded by his over protectiveness of his children and his growing mutual attraction to Lucy, Gru seems on the wrong track even as his hordes of Minions are being quietly kidnapped en masse for a malevolent purpose.
Despicable Me had lots of heart and some great characters. Most of that movie's energy revolved around an evil super villain having to get along with three young girls who like fluffy pink unicorns. The characters bounced off one another very well and it made for a lot of situational comedy. In Despicable Me 2, the lovable characters return, but they are all getting along perfectly well and their situations aren't nearly as creative and funny. Now Gru is set on being a good father and taking care of his new daughters. That's all fine and dandy, but the characters' story arches seem to be watered down to a standardized prepackaged family drama that's been overdone many times before. Furthermore, Gru has turned from being a great bad guy to a boring good guy. That's a critical thing the first movie had. His previous nastiness undercut the prevailing sweetness perfectly well. This makes the movie hopelessly nice and insufficiently naughty. The characters in Despicable Me 2 manage to be fun, but they lack some of the depth of the first movie.
Despicable Me 2 could easily have been called "The Minions Movie." Don't get me wrong, the Minions are hysterical. They steal every scene they show up in. They are cute, they are funny, they sound silly. The way the movie was advertised, you'd have thought it was all about little yellow guys who were incapable of speech doing nothing but a bunch  of silly physical gags. There are a lot more Minion shenanigans in this movie, and it's a stitch! They don't technically say anything, but the way they are animated and the sounds they make you can usually tell what it is they are saying or in some cases singing. It's an indication of good animation when we can tell what a non-verbal character is saying or thinking. By the end of the movie every child is going to want their own Minion toy. Heck, I want one!
Despicable Me 2 is a cute movie. It doesn't quite exceed the quality of its predecessor, but it has enough charm, humor, and warmth to make it a solid family film. It's a credit that the writing can be so funny in the moment that you don't have time to stop and realize it lacks cohesion, dramatic tension, or a life lesson for the characters or audience to learn. The movie is a lot more like getting together with old friends for a few laughs and seeing what they've been up to. And that's just fine! Kids will get a huge kick out of revisiting the same sort of jokes while adults will be entertained enough to enjoy it with their kids. Despicable Me 2 is worth owning on Blu-Ray if you've got kids who will want to watch it repeatedly. I enjoyed it, but not enough to get my own copy to watch again and again.

There are tons of Minion antics between the two movies. Which one is your favorite? Comment below and tell me why!

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