Despicable Me 2 Returns Despicably Cute As EverJul 03, 2013
“Despicable Me” was one of the biggest surprises out of Universal in 2010 with its heartfelt story, clever twist on an anti-hero, and army of unpredictably amusing minions. The first film may have lacked depth, but it certainly didn’t miss a beat when it came to tugging on the heartstrings. Not only did it bring in over half a billion dollars, but it also managed to be something special enough to audiences to really develop a fan base. Despicable Me 2 is looking to create the same fresh and heartfelt story as the original, but is this really the type of movie that warrants a sequel?
Despicable Me 2 brings us back up to speed with Gru(Steve Carell) who is now a stay at home villain raising his adopted daughters Margo(Miranda Cosgrove), Edith(Dana Gaier), and Agnes(Elsie Kate Fisher) with his partner Dr. Nefario(Russell Brand) and his army of minions. After an elusive new super villain abducts a laboratory developing plans for a powerful formula, Gru is contacted by an Anti-Villain League (AVL) agent named Lucy (Kristen Wiig) who wants to enlist him to save the world. After Dr. Nafario takes a new job, Gru becomes excited about the idea of working with all of his favorite deadly weapons again and takes the job. In his investigation he meets up with very eccentric suspects named Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt) and Floyd Eagle (Ken Jeong). It’s left up to Gru and his army of adorable minions to find the secret villain’s super weapon before its too late.
Much like the first film, Despicable Me 2 is a pretty basic story. There’s a villain with a plan to take over the world and somewhere in there is a sub-par romance subplot. It never does anything all too daring and always takes the safer route. This isn’t a problem per say, but it leaves the story feeling nothing short of generic. There was never a moment in the movie that I was intrigued or compelled to wonder just what was going to happen next. The movie makes up for its lack of creativity in the story department with some really charming humor and a plethora of minion sketches. I say sketches because while they are part of the story, they’re more or less just little shorts that are loosely weaved into the main plot as opposed to warranting subplots of their own. If you loved the minions on the last outing then you’ll be at home here as well.
The dark side of the heavy use of minions is that once you strip away all of those slapstick shorts, you’re left with a movie that is barely an hour long and lacks much real substance. I enjoyed the minion sketches to their fullest and they are almost funny enough on their own to demand the price of admission, but it’s hard to really love a movie when you’re essentially only getting the icing on the cake without enjoying the full meal. Most of the other comedy in the movie was mostly spot-on. There was one joke in particular that related to a new character introduction that was so over the top and out of left field that it practically demands a pause for laughter.
One of the strengths of the original was not just its ability to charm your pants off with the minions and kids, but it was also able to tug your heartstrings just enough to be both emotionally distracting and borderline annoying afterwards. Despicable Me 2 follows suit by stopping all of it absurdity and quirky humor at times to capture a moment of precious human connection. These scenes are generally heartfelt, although some lay things on a little too thick leading to the blatant feeling of manipulation, but they work more times than not.
The voice acting here is solid with Carell being as reliable as ever. With the last minute recasting of Eduardo(who was originally voiced by Al Pacino up until a couple of months until release) I was a bit worried that Bratt’s re-dubbing would come across very forced, but luckily it’s a completely unnoticed change that most audiences will never be aware of. The other actors are serviceable, but aside from Gru I don’t think there’s any character or performance that are really worth remembering.
Overall Despicable Me 2 is a simple movie that relies heavily on the cute/charm factor to carry it. It lacks the creativity and emotional depth of Pixar’s 2013 outing “Monsters University”, but to overlook the laughs here would be a shame. There’s little substance underneath the generic plot and minion skits, but that doesn’t keep it from being a fun and enjoyable family outing to the movies, especially if Man of Steel and Monsters University is already sold out this holiday weekend.