Despicable Me 2 (2013)

despicable me 2 IMDb

Despicable Me was surprisingly good. It blended a strange, almost subversive sense of humor with a sweet story and cool soundtrack to set itself apart from the animated pack. It’s not crazy to assume that this same recipe would work a second time around. But Despicable Me 2 comes up a bit short.

That’s not to say that this movie isn’t enjoyable. It’s still funny, and the animation looks as good as ever. There’s just a “been there done that” feel to the movie, because… well we have seen most of it before in the previous film. We’re also given a less compelling story than the first time around, and way too many Minions for my taste.

Despicable Me 2 picks up where the first left off. Gru (Steve Carrell) has settled into his role of dad to the three orphan girls he adopted in the previous movie. He’s given up the super villain business, but is asked by the Anti-Villain League (AVL) to help find out who has stolen a mutagen capable of turning people (or other creatures) into savage purple monsters. Gru also finds himself falling for his AVL partner, Lucy (Kristen Wiig), and dealing with his oldest daughter’s new crush.

I enjoyed the progression of the story, especially oldest girl Margo (Miranda Cosgrove) developing a crush and how Gru deals with her budding love life. For me this would have been enough of a subplot. Sure, it was nice seeing him find love as well, but what made the first movie great was Gru’s relationship with his girls. These are also the best parts of Despicable Me 2, but unfortunately they have to share time with so many other things going on. A lot of time is also taken up by the Minions. These little yellow dudes became insanely popular, so they are given a much larger role this time around. Their slapstick humor is funny in small doses, but gets tiresome after awhile. The Minions are getting their own movie this year, and needless to say I’ll be skipping that one.

Despicable Me 2 suffers from “sequel syndrome.” It’s predecessor was insanely popular, and this one tries to recreate that magic. However, it fails to recapture what made the first special, instead doubling down on the Minions in an effort to boost merchandising revenue. Still, I’m optimistic for the second sequel coming in 2017. Let’s hope the writers refocus on the family dynamic.

Rating: C+

Topping the first delightful film was always going to be tricky. There are enough sight gags and laughs in this sequel to be amusing, but it is lacking the heart that the first film had so much of.

Despicable Me 2 picks up with the now former super villain Gru (Steve Carell) being asked by the Anti-villain league (AVL) to help them track down a super villain they are having a hard time finding. Reluctant at first, Gru eventually agrees to help them and is aided by AVL agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig). Gru’s adopted daughters (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier and Elsie Kate Fischer) have been asking him to find them a mum and believe this lady could be the perfect candidate. Gru and agent Wilde work together to try and track down the nefarious El Macho (Benjamin Bratt), while the kids play some matchmaking. Along the way, Gru uncovers a plot by his supposed friend Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) and El Macho to capture his minions and turn them into mindless purple lemmings.

This film tries to capitalise on the enormous popularity of the minions from the first film by giving them much more screen time in this sequel. It works, the film is still very funny, but it is missing something. The best thing about the first film was not the comic relief that the minions provided. It was the emotional journey that Gru went on. He started the film as an evil villain and ended it as an adoptive father of three. It was this sort of journey that the sequel is missing. I still enjoyed it and found it funny, but it was not as satisfying as the first movie because no characters changes significantly throughout this second film.

Despicable Me 2 takes the enormous popularity of the minions from the first film and gives them a much larger role. It leads to more laughs, but no emotionally satisfying journey for any of the human characters.

Rating: C+

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