Movie Review – Despicable Me 2 (2013)

Directors: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud

Stars: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Elsie Fisher, Dana Gaier

In this sequel to the animated hit Despicable Me, the reformed villain Gru (Carell) gets an opportunity to go back into the world of gadgets and intrigue when Lucy (Wiig) from the Anti Villains League recruits him. His longtime partner Dr. Nefario (Brand) has left for a new opportunity, so Gru has to rely on his minions to help him uncover a serum that turns ordinary things into monstrous creatures. His main suspect is the owner of a Salsa restaurant (Bratt) who he believes to be a legendary villain, El Macho. Meanwhile, his daughters (Cosgrove, Fisher, Gaier) are trying to convince him to try dating again. When minions start going missing Gru realizes that there’s more going on than he first thought, and he has to navigate bad dates and his concern over Margo’s first crush in order to foil the nefarious plot on which he has stumbled. 

The first film was pretty much universally loved so Despicable Me 2 had a lot to live up to, and sometimes animated sequels have a tendency to simply repeat the same tricks of the first film, but stretch out a few more elements that worked. As such I was a little worried that the Minions would take over the picture, but thankfully that wasn’t the case, as I think in small doses and around the fringe of the main story they work really well and do have some really funny moments, but I have a suspicion that less is more (I’m aware they’re having their own film, and I’m not sure it’s going to work as well as the main Despicable Me films). 

Once again the real heart of the film is Gru’s relationship with the girls. Margo and Agnes (she has to be one of the most adorable characters ever got the majority of the story, while Agnes got ignored a little bit, with just a few jokes here and there. I liked how they were trying to get Gru to be more social and develop his love life, while his struggles with this were the source of much humor. I liked his relations with Lucy as well and how they developed a mutual appreciation for one another. 

I really love the family dynamic between the girls and Gru, and I liked how Lucy was being incorporated into this. There were a few tense scenes were an unseen villain was (literally) hoovering up the minions for some unknown purpose. This was intriguing and I was firmly engrossed in the film, until I realized there was only about forty minutes left and I didn’t see how they were going to give the film a satisfying conclusion. They didn’t. 

I thought the main plot was very rushed, and it seemed as though they made their decision to make it a certain length, but the story was too big, so instead they cut the main plot and left it truncated. The villain’s motivations felt underdeveloped and there were some changing loyalties that seemed very rushed and only served as plot devices. By the end of it, it didn’t seem that much was really at stake so it seemed a waste of time. 

But the stuff with Gru and the girls is brilliant, so despite the fact that the plot wasn’t really there I still enjoyed it. There were a lot of funny moments and some heartwarming ones too, especially with Agnes. I think it might actually have been better served if they didn’t have the villainous plot and instead made it a straight up animated romcom, because those are the parts of the films that really worked and make it worth watching. I’m sure people who liked the first one will like this and get a kick out of the minions. I still like it and I think it’s enjoyable but the climax feels rushed and is therefore unsatisfying.

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2 thoughts on “Movie Review – Despicable Me 2 (2013)

  1. I see your complaints and I agree but like you…I thought it was enjoyable! I used the film for a date night and had a fun time with it. I am a bit more generous with animated flicks than I am with live action simply because they are made for children. Whether or not we enjoy the majority of these….the majority of children will love it. Of course some are so bad that my generosity is broken but eh….I liked this!

    • Yeah, I just wanted to point it out. I still think the strength is the relationship between Gru and the girls, and that makes the film worth watching. I do think as well that in some ways it’s more important to strive for quality when it is a children’s film since they are very impressionable and soak up a lot of things. A lot of people see “made for children” and expect it to be mindless fare but really it should be intelligent and thought-provoking because for better or worse movies etc are influential. I’m rambling a bit now though ;) one thing I do love about animated movies is that they can still do physical comedy that harks back to Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry etc, I loved the bit in DM2 where Gru and Lucy are trying to take his date back to her house.

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