‘Despicable Me 2’ Movie Review – Adorable to a T
To me, there aren’t harder movies to review than animated ones. Falling right behind comedies in the pecking order, it almost seems silly to deconstruct a film that is most likely meant for kids (or at least families). I actually feel guilty doing it. Then I remember movies like Toy Story, Up, or even 2010’s Despicable Me. If nothing else, these films have a big (check that: huge) heart. That seems to be one of the only defining characteristics other than “adorable” or “cute.” Despicable Me 2, if defined by “heart” and cuteness should put it in the same category…but somehow it’s still missing something. It’s a good movie – don’t get me wrong – but it’s just not in the top tier of animated movies.
Set pretty soon after Despicable Me (nobody looks to have aged much), Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud’s sequel continues to use Gru (Steve Carell) and his adopted children (Elsie Fisher, Dana Gaier, and Miranda Cosgrove) as main characters. Oh, and of course his army of little, yellow Minions are there, too.
Instead of shrinking and stealing the moon, Gru is summoned to help the Anti-Villain League (AVL) investigate the theft of a mutating compound called PX-41. Afraid it’s in the hands of the wrong person, Gru and AVL agent Lucy (Kristen Wiig) set up shop in a local mall to find the evil supervillain.
There are sideplots – one involving Gru’s love life – that also play in with the overall arc. If I’m going to complain about the movie (a telltale hint that I’m going to), it’d be just how formulaic and generic it feels. Again, it seems almost frivolous to complain about an animated/children’s movie, but is that a good enough excuse to ignore it altogether? No, it’s not, and Despicable Me 2 just doesn’t have the best plot – animated or not – in the world.
It does, however, carry over the heart from Despicable Me. Both his youngest daughter Agnes (Fisher) and his band of misfit minions continue to create the most “awwws” and chuckles. The minions themselves generate the most laughs. And even the most heartless (like Gru in the original) can’t deny their cuteness.
In the grand scheme of things, Despicable Me 2 can also be lauded for not ruining the franchise. This can be taken as a compliment because it’s not easy to say the same for plenty of sequels. I would also argue it doesn’t necessarily justify the sequel (it’s right on the edge), but it was almost inevitable once Despicable Me obtained success (read: money). The buck doesn’t stop here either because Minions, a prequel/spin-off, is due out next Christmas.
Fair or unjust, animated movies are subjected to the same criteria when it comes to reviews. There’s a degree of “take it or leave it” when it comes to plot because you’re talking about the greatest uses of “movie magic.” In Up, for instance, a man is using inflated balloons to transport his house across the world. Therefore, seeing Gru riding a shark attached to a missile isn’t all that off. Despicable Me 2 still feels wholly generic – in a way a majority of animated movies and other genre movies do – and really does start to break down on the plot level. One of the truest measures of a children’s movie is whether grown-ups can enjoy it, too, and this sequel barely clears that barrier. It’s certainly nowhere near Despicable Me.
Despicable Me 2 is one of the two wide releases this extended 4th of July weekend. Check it out at a theater near you!
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