“Despicable Me 2” (2013)
Being fresh off of watching “Despicable Me” for the first time, I thought it’d be appropriate to watch its recent sequel and see how it stacks up.
Going in, I expected to see more of what made the first one so popular, but also developing the idea of super-villain filled world and it acts. What we got is much of what made the first film so appealing, but not necessarily more of the latter.
Super-villain Gru (Steve Carrel) has decided to give up his villainous life style to support his three new daughters, even though clearly he doesn’t want to leave. But when another baddy steals a top secret and highly dangerous formula, the Anti-Villain League, an organization dedicated to stopping crime, decides to recruit Gru and find this fiend before his plan comes to fruition.
I’ll say that, while typing this review, it has come to my attention that I’m leaving out several major plot points. What I wrote above only takes up a portion of the film. There is also a romantic subplot involving Gru and an agent of the Anti-Villain League (voiced by Kristen Wiig). Then there’s also a subplot involving Gru’s eldest daughter (Miranda Cosgrove) and her own romantic interests.
I think “Despicable Me 2” has a bit of trouble staying focused on its tasks and goals.
While all of this is going on, there is scene after scene with the Minions. I swear, there are at least five scenes in this film that involve only the Minions. In “Despicable Me” the amount of scenes involving them is at a good number and followed the “less is more” approach. Here, many of the scenes involving these little yellow guys don’t add anything to the movie, go nowhere and are forgotten about mere moments after they’re finished.
I understand that the Minions were by far the most popular characters about the first film. At some point, even too much of a good thing can become irritating. Now that’s not to say these guys don’t have good moments. There are quite a few scenes that are very funny, like when a large group of them are on vacation in a tropical paradise. However, near the end, the Minions have not one, but two musical numbers in their strange language. Not only can you not understand them, but they don’t really add anything to tone or atmosphere of the final scenes.
While I feel that it was a good idea to have more of the Minions in this film, I also feel that their scenes could have been handled better.
In my “Despicable Me” review, I mentioned that what I enjoyed most about the film was the idea of a world filled with only super-villains and no heroes. I also talked about how the film didn’t do much with this idea and could have expounded upon it in more detail, hoping that “Despicable Me 2” would do that job.
It did not.
Oh sure, we’re introduced to one or two new villains and Anti-Villain League (notice how they don’t call themselves “heroes”), but there are still so many things I want to know about this world that are never touched on.
This is a unique world with so many creative and comedic possibilities, but they hardly ever do anything with it. In a film like this, the world and how it reacts to Gru’s antics can be just as much of a character as anybody else in the film. Instead of developing that character and letting the audience see how much their world differs from our own, we get lots of predictable scenes involving Gru trying to get a girlfriend.
Now, don’t take these harsh words as a way of saying “Despicable Me 2” sucks. Because it doesn’t. It is very similar to the first film in many ways: Rather predictable, doesn’t take many chances, but it’s cute and has good family fun comedy.
Everything that was cute in “Despicable Me” has been amplified in this film, especially the youngest of Gru’s daughters and her big puppy-dog eyes. There is also quite a few jokes that will appeal to wide range of ages, such as when Gru tranquilizes one of his dates and has to take her home, leading to a lot of wacky slapstick hijinks.
And I’m a man who loves his slapstick.
Overall though, while I was entertained by “Despicable Me 2” in much the same way I was by the first film, I can’t help but feel that there is so much more that could have been done. Exploration and world-building are forgotten to have more time with the Minions, but I guess that appeals to more people.
If you liked the first “Despicable Me” then you’ll like “Despicable Me 2.” It’s more of the same, but when was that a bad thing?
Final Grade: C