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Film Review: Despicable Me 2

It may be lighter on the Despicable, but there is no short supply of little yellow minions to take its place. Clearly this is what the audience from Despicable Me wanted, and that is what they got in its sequel.

Supervillian Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) and his little yellow minions are back in Despicable Me 2. But unlike his last adventure, Gru is called upon to save the world while trying to raise his three adopted girls. Recruited by the Anti-Villain League and their quirky agent Lucy (voiced by Kristen Wiig), Gru goes under cover to find fellow villain El Macho (voiced by Benjamin Bratt) who is responsible for stealing a chemical that has the power to transform creatures into monsters.

Despicable Me 2
© 2013 Universal Pictures

All of this plays out while Gru balances work and being a single father for Margo, Edith, and Agnes. This becomes particularly troublesome as Margo (voiced by Miranda Cosgrove) finds her attention increasingly focused on boys and Agnes (voiced by Elsie Cate Fisher) hopes for Gru to find that “special someone” to be the girls’ mom. And of course, they are plenty of hilarious appearances by Gru’s always-mischievous minions.

Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud return from the first film to take the reins on Despicable Me 2. They worked in tandem with writers Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul, two of the three original writers from the first Despicable Me. While most of the creative forces behind the first successful film are once again working together, Despicable Me 2 falls short of its predecessor in a few key ways.

Despicable Me 2
© 2013 Universal Pictures

A major part of what made the first movie so humorous was that Gru was a villain. His antics and schemes had their charm and made the audience root for the bad guy rather than against him. And his ineptitude made him all the more loveable. This time, Gru’s demeanor falls very short of being any sort of “despicable”. His ineptitude and antics are brought into the plot line, but it is minimal and leaves much to be desired.

The reason for this change is clearly demonstrated throughout the movie: Despicable Me 2 is all about the little yellow minions.

As opposed to the first installment, Despicable Me 2 centers almost completely around the minions from beginning to end. They get the most screen time, they are the main vehicles for the movie’s comedy, and the minions are completely central to the movie’s plot. They are no longer the cute yellow sidekicks, but rather the stars. Their antics are still cute, goofy, and mischievous, but their domination of the film leaves the rest of the characters unbalanced. We get less of the lovable Gru or the girls; with a less despicable Gru, it is not too much of a bad thing either. Unlike the first movie I wasn’t left with that feeling of “I want to see more of those goofy little minions!”

A perfect example is the ending credits, which once again features a group of little yellow minions being disruptive with their slapstick antics. In the first movie it was endearing and fed the audience’s appetite for more minions. This second time around, I had a feeling that was more akin to, “this is cute, but I’m done”. Sometimes less is more.

It is clear that the creators know they have a valuable set of characters that can be merchandised beyond film and into products like toys and games. Sitting through the movie you realize that this is some sort of “little yellow coming out party”. The minions don’t disappoint, but they do take away from the other characters.

Overall, Despicable Me 2 is an entertaining and funny follow up to the original film. While some of the original charm that made the first film so successful is lost, this offering still manages to entertain young and old audiences alike. It is a great family film to see over the long holiday weekend.

Despicable Me 2

Grade: B

 

 

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Aaron Zamora

Aaron grew up in Whittier, California and is currently finishing his master's degree in Human Communication studies from California State University, Fullerton. His interest in journalism began in high school where he served as the Editor-in-Chief for his school’s newspaper and participated in their inaugural broadcast journalism program. An avid world traveler, Aaron has a wide array of interest that include a passion for cinema and television. He is also a sports fanatic.

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