Despicable Me 2 Review
by Daniel Rester
I’m one of the few people who actually wasn’t a big fan of the 2010 film Despicable Me. The animation was colorful and the story and characters were cute, but I felt underwhelmed when all was said and done. So going in to see Despicable Me 2 I wasn’t ecstatic like many others were. I must say, though, that I was pleasantly surprised by the sequel.
Despicable Me 2 picks up where its predecessor left off. Sort-of evil mastermind Gru (Steve Carell), who isn’t very evil anymore, now takes care of his daughters Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher); the previous villain even has his own line of jams and jellies now. But Gru is soon brought back into the good-versus-evil world when he is taken by the Anti-Villain League. The League realizes that Gru knows how to think like a villain, so they recruit him to help stop a powerful new villain. In the process, Gru teams up with an AVL agent named Lucy (Kristen Wiig), Margo becomes interested in teenage boys, and Gru’s minions somehow get caught up in the new super villain’s machinations.
Though far from great, Despicable Me 2 springs forward as being one of the funniest family-friendly films of the year. The visual gags (which occur frequently) and the dialogue are just hilarious, with the minion characters scoring again with most of the laughs. All of the past characters are given slightly more development, and the new characters Lucy and Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt, who gives a terrific vocal performance) are appealing as well.
The hilarity and characters are made better by being assisted by beautiful animation and a talented cast. The diegesis of the film is interesting enough, with the world of villains having a fresh spin on it, but it really benefits from coming to life through the animation. The visual work here is smooth and provides a great amount of depth, and is less oddly-shaped than the first film. The cast is also aces, with everyone clearly having a lot of fun; Carell and Bratt are standouts.
Despicable Me 2 doesn’t quite hit a bull’s-eye for a couple of reasons, the first being that the story really just isn’t that strong. Sure, this movie has a neat story world and further develops the characters, but the actual plot lacks a certain punch. The film uses very basic story devices in getting from one gag to another, and the emotionality in a few key scenes is weak. Another problem is Wiig’s performance as Lucy. The character is likable and wild, but Wiig seems to just be phoning it in here – hitting all of the regular notes as a love interest character, and never quite giving enough variation/range in her vocal performance. She is a talented actress for sure, but I just wanted more out of the character of Lucy through her performance.
Writers Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul and directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud (who provide the voices of the minions) have fashioned an animated film that is easy to like but difficult to love. The film is highly entertaining, but it just never wows or becomes anything memorable. Though I bagged on Wiig, she does a fine enough job that she wouldn’t have hurt even a great film. But Despicable Me 2 never becomes a great film because its story is just so by-the-numbers, which presents a bit of disappointment. Even so, the film is still a fun time for the most part.
Rating: 3 out of 4 stars (Grade Equivalent for Me: B).