Despicable Me 2 Movie Review

If you are a parent who simply wants your child happily occupied for 98 minutes, then judging by the kids laughter in the theater, DESPICABLE ME 2 will do just fine and you can ignore the rest of this review.

I always hate it when I don’t like a kids movie and I have to criticize why the cartoon didn’t satisfy my (sometimes) adult-minded view.  For the record, I love many family oriented children movies.  I thought the recently released THE CROODS (click the link to read my review) was very cute and I loved MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (click the link to read my review).  Heck, I’m even a big fan of the first DESPICABLE ME!  Unfortunately, DESPICABLE ME 2 comes off like a straight-to-video Disney sequel.  Yes, the beloved characters all return but they along with the story are so much more pedestrian and watered down that it hardly seems worth slapping down hard earned cash to see it on the big screen.  Thankfully, the minions are back and funnier and as delightful as ever, but they just aren’t enough to sustain a picture where they are not featured as the main stars (not until next year!).

Steve Carell in Despicable Me 2

The Anti-Villain League is having trouble finding and capturing a new super criminal.  The only solution is to call for help from the greatest villain turned hero daddy Gru (voiced once again by the creepy funny sounds of Steve Carell).  The plot of our not-so-secret villain is to steal minions and turn them into little indestructible monsters.  The main difference is their yellow has turned purple, their minimal to no hair has become tall and frazzled, and their care-free giggles and laughter has turned into growls and grunts.  Plus, they eat everything and everyone in sight with the impossibility of being killed.  This is a smart option by the writers as it gives more use for the minions tying them into the overall plot.  However, other than that idea everything feels a bit empty.  Trudging through an awkward love story between Gru and wacky agent Lucy (voiced by a missed opportunity in Kristen Wiig) along with a rather forgettable villain in El Macho (voiced by Benjamin Bratt who replaced Al Pacino after inexplicably dropping out just a month ago), the story fails to deliver any of the heart the original masterly orchestrated. Dr. Nefario’s (voiced by Russell Brand) returns as does Gru’s children Margo, Edith and Agnes.  The eldest has a short boyfriend plot that is good for a few laughs from an over-protective Gru but even that is fleeting.

Steve Carell in Despicable Me 2

The jokes consist of an overuse of the fart gun (which was cleverly used as a throwaway gag in the first) and Gru dressing up a fairy princess for his daughters birthday bash, which admittedly elicited fake laughter from the children-packed theater.  Yes, even fake laughter from children is endearing but clearly the kids are hopped up on soda and are just excited to be seeing a 3D version of characters they already love.  One young boy was so geared to love the movie that in the opening sequence, he proudly wished aloud, “I hope there’s a DESPICABLE ME 3!” Hold on their little sugar-fueled fella.  Let’s find out how this one plays out before we start proclaiming the greatness for a yet-to-be third installment.  I smell a future Hollywood executive.

Steve Carell in Despicable Me 2

As I said, the minions are hilarious!  They provide more than a few laugh-out-loud moments but sadly this isn’t their show, so we have to tiredly await their next appearance.  Unlike the first film where all the characters were a joy providing humor and heart, DESPICABLE ME 2 relies solely on the minions.  The rest of the characters are bland, dry remnants of their former selves.  The film had potential for some really sweet moments but did not retain this child’s attention while he waited for the next minion to appear.

Steve Carell in Despicable Me 2

Much like the first one, DESPICABLE ME 2 presents one of the better uses of 3D.  The gimmicks are consistent and reliable as I too was swatting at the exceptional graphics flying at my face.  If you can make it to the closing epilogue you will earn the reward of the adorable minions putting on a performance that will have you in stitches.  Maybe I’m being a bit too tough on the film, but after watching MONSTERS UNIVERSITY and rewatching DESPICABLE ME, the inferiority of DESPICABLE ME 2 stings a little more.

OVERALL 2.5
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