Reviewed by Ian Forbes
To no great surprise, another animated movie has spawned a sequel. Despicable Me 2 picks up shortly after the first one left off; with a villain named Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) now turned into a lovable softy by the precocious threesome of orphan girls he adopted originally for their unwitting help in proving what a spectacular bad guy he could be.
Now settled into the world of making jams and jellies, our formerly evil hero finds the life of an initially reluctant father to his liking. To kick-start this plot along, an organization known as the Anti-Villain League recruits him to help stop someone from carrying out a dastardly deed of their own. This brings a new woman (voiced by Kristen Wiig) into Gru’s life. The girls also have different subplots going on, as does Gru’s right-hand man, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand). But all of these different stories are where the film tries to do too much.
What should be a simple, fun tale of Gru and his still hilarious and adorable minions taking down a super villain gets caught up among so many other storylines. This makes the middle section drag a bit, creating some pacing issues. Cutting out Wiig’s character entirely would have made for a much leaner, tighter script; but why not include a comedienne who brings all that quirky energy and of whom America simply can’t get enough of? (Yes, that’s sarcasm you smell.)
Moving along, for the most part Despicable Me 2 delivers a decent sequel. I’m still not convinced this was a movie that needed to be made but it delivered a good dose of laughs and a few tender moments. (And to be fair, I can’t seem to ever get enough of the minions).
If there’s one point I want to harp on for a quick second, it’s the 3D. By and large, it’s okay. However, the end credit sequence of minions mucking about utilizes some of the very best 3D I’ve seen to date. This is both a blessing and a curse though, as it shows just how good the filmmakers can employ this technology. If that’s the case, why only use it for this one section? All you’re doing is showing how flat and not-3D the entire feature film was. Frankly, it’s offensive to think you can justify the higher costs because you include one tiny skit that makes those tinted glasses truly useful. Either go all the way all the time, or let us enjoy the movie sans re-sanitized spectacles and spend those few extra bucks on popcorn and candy.
Sadly, with Monsters University unjustifiably sucking all the cash out of parents’ wallets, I hope the box office for this movie isn’t affected too much. Whereas Pixar relied on tradition to fool people into a largely terrible follow-up to one of their own properties, Despicable Me 2 will just have to rely on being a good animated film to draw audiences in. And judging by the number of people who went to see The Heat last weekend, I’m worried whether being a good film is enough these days.
Despicable Me 2 opens in theaters on July 3, 2013 and is rated PG for rude humor and mild action.
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