It always is worrisome to go see a film like Despicable Me 2. A film that is heralded as a classic and a very fun and very enjoyable family movie is coming out with a sequel… And for the most part these sequels are hit and miss. Some of them are okay, but other can be outright horrendous. Any time you watch a sequel to a children’s cartoon movie, the question usually asked is, “What happens after ‘Happily Ever After’?” Not to mention these movies are some of the biggest offenders of the sequel generating monster, knowing full well that kids will watch whatever they throw at them and stare at their demographics charts saying ‘Kids liked (Insert Thing)? THEN QUADRUPLE THE THING! MAKE THING TOYS, THING PROMOTIONS! RAM IT DOWN THOSE LITTLE BASTARDS THROATS! THINGS!
Luckily though Despicable Me 2 is not one of these movies. This film was actually a very enjoyable family movie. While still a downgrade from the original, this film kept me fully entertained and invested with only a handful of speed bumps along the way.
Despicable Me 2 is the tale of former bad guy turned father Felonius Gru (Steve Carrell) as he transitions into normal life running a ‘jelly and jam’ making operation with his slew of adorable yellow minions and Gru’s partner Dr. Nefarious (Russell Brand) and more importantly taking care of his three adopted daughters Agnis, Edith, and Margo (Elise Fisher, Dana Gaier, and Miranda Cosgrove respectfully). During his daughter’s birthday party he is kidnapped by quirky adorable operative Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) and taken to the Anti Villain League or AVL in order to stop an evil mastermind after he steals a formula that turns normal creatures into purple rage induced monsters. Gru and Lucy are sent undercover at a Cupcake shop in a mall where they are supposed to find the evil mastermind. The rest of the story is about Gru and Lucy stopping this mastermind as well as exploring a blossoming relationship between the two of them and of course Gru having to deal with being a father to the three girls.
Gru’s Relationship with His Daughters
I believe that this film and its predecessor is how you are supposed to do the ‘reformed villain’ type of movie. Unlike films like Megamind which I think is absolute garbage, Despicable Me is the best film that features a former hard super villain who has reformed his ways and the number one reason behind that is his three daughters. The relationship between Gru and the three daughters is really the central focus of this film and makes it one of my favorite relationships I’ve seen on the big screen. There is a true love there and a willingness to reform, not because someone asked them too or they want to bone some chick who only digs heroes. But a man who is genuinely moved by the presences of these girls and cares for them so much that he is willing to change his ways and try to lead a better life for them.
This film does a fantastic job portraying that and his love for his daughters. Such as taking care of Elise and helping her with a play she is in or the classic schtick where the oldest daughter gets a boyfriend and Gru turns into Super Dad mode. It is really a joy to watch and provides great bits throughout the film.
It is Just a Fun Loving Feel Good Film with Plenty of Funny Moments
This is just one of these films that you can watch and enjoy with no worry or care in the world. It has genuinely funny and enjoyable moments, there is no character in the film that is despised or overly annoying, and it has plenty of good humor for children and adults. Essentially, this is what every family film wishes it was. To have that level of sincerity and still produce a good and enjoyable film.
The Minions are Amped Up in this Movie… But That Isn’t Necessarily a Bad Thing
If there is anything that represents the ‘things’ that I mentioned in the intro to this review, it is Gru’s minions. The adorable fun-loving, goofy, slapsticky creatures that look like they are straight out of the Smurfs universe does play a larger role in this film… In fact they are almost the focus in a way when it is revealed what the super villains evil plans are. They are REALLY ampped up and show up a lot more and seeing as how this is what fans liked about the first one then they have been all over the world for advertisements.
But… That really isn’t a terrible thing. These guys are in the movie a lot more and do accumulate the biggest number of failed jokes but at the end of the day they are not annoying in their presence in the film only makes the film funnier and doesn’t necessarily hurt it… So that is okay. I think this is a moment where the sequel got it right. It gave more of what the audience wanted from the first film, but at the same time did not throw them at the screen so much that it make you want to tear your eyes out of your sockets. I would have liked to have seen some more scenes between Gru and his daughters, Gru and Lucy, and anything that involved El Macho (Benjamin Bratt) and his chicken Pollito (who is now one of my favorite characters in any animated movie), the presences of the Minions only adds to the enjoyment of the film and the charm that it possesses.
Some Jokes Do Fall Flat
Like with any story there are going to be a few moments where jokes do not work or they go for low brow comedy and it just doesn’t pan out. There are several scenes between the minions that are supposed to be comedic but just come off as… ‘Why?’ Such as moments when they are in cooky outfits like a french maid outfit, golfer slacks, and so on and so forth that just do not hit that mark. A lot of the scenes felt like the creators said… “Let’s do some crazy stuff and see what gets a laugh and what doesn’t.” There are moments where you will see a scene of a minion in a strange outfit and say… “Why is that funny?” But they are spaced out through the more comedic moments, it is just that there are times where things just won’t work out.
Then there are moments when they do go for the more low brow humor like fart jokes and anything that involves bodily functions, such as the fart gun. Yes they have fart guns. One such scene involves a moment when Dr. Nefarious wants to do more evil things than make jam and resigns from Gru’s services and thus they sent him off with a twenty-one fart gun salute which I found to be a little more childish than funny. But then again the immediate scene following that is one of the characters saying ‘That sounded like twenty-two’ and one of the minions has an embarrassed look on their face… Which I actually did find funny so I guess the twenty-one fart gun salute was… the setup? I guess that is the only thing that I can call it and if that was the creators intentions… Then actually that joke was genius.
The Concept of a Love Interest for Gru
Now I’m not about to make the argument that Lucy is an unlikable character. Actually I love Lucy and think she was a lot of fun to see on-screen and Kristen Wiig did a great job voicing her… The problem that I have with Lucy is not her character or how she is portrayed… It is the fact that she exists in this film in the first place. One thing I like about this story on the whole is the fact that this former evil mastermind Gru has found these three girls and has changed his life and his ways just to take care of these three girls that he now sees as his daughters. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is at the beginning for Elsie’s birthday where a person who is supposed to play the fairy princess doesn’t show up so Gru actually dresses as a fairy princess just because he doesn’t want Elsie to be sad on her birthday. Just imagine for a second if Gru was actually a more serious villain… Like Lex Luthor. Imagine Lex Luthor finding three girls, adopting them, and putting on a fairy costume just to make sure they are never sad. In this world that is created, that is pretty much what happens and it shows his love and devotion for these three girls…And I really would have liked to have it to stay that way.
It isn’t that I dislike the Lucy character, it is the fact that I do not like the fact that the creators felt compelled to add a romantic love interest because the family is missing one. I dislike the fact that from what this film is saying, the only way to have a truly happy ending is to have a complete functioning family with a father, a mother, and three girls. I suppose that is the type of society that we live in and something that should be strived to achieve. But I really would have wanted to keep the idea of Gru still trying to care for these girls on his own as oppose to having a love interest. Maybe I’m reading way too much into this, making this a bigger deal then it should be, and really this is an area I did not feel like it dragged down the film at all… I just had a different opinion on how the story should progress and was a little upset that they went in a different direction.
Despicable Me 2 is a step down from the original but only a minor step. The film is funny, characters a great and enjoyable, and it is something that the whole family can watch and watch over and over again. Sure some jokes do fall flat and there are a few minor errors here and there, but these are only small hiccups in what is overall a very enjoyable watch.
Final Score 3.5/5
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