The first Despicable Me movie released in 2010 was one of Universal Pictures’ biggest hits, which was a surprise since it was not produced by the animation kings of Disney or Dreamworks. What did they do afterwards? They did what any franchise that made over $500 million would do (other than make spin-off TV shows or reboots). They made a sequel. Does Despicable Me 2 carry the same charm as the original, or is it truly despicable?
Following the first film, the former supervillain, Gru, is now caring for his three new daughters, Margo, Edith, and Agnes. However, he is pulled out of brief retirement by the Anti-Villain League in order to discover who stole a powerful mutant gene that can create powerful monsters. He is partnered with agent Lucy Wilde to investigate. While investigating, Gru suspects that the owner of a Mexican restaurant might be the villain they’re looking for, as he seems to bear some similarities to a former super villain called “El Macho” (though if he truly was “El Macho,” he’d be voiced by Danny Trejo). Gru must discover who’s behind the crimes while also trying to be the best father he could be.
In terms of charm and originality, I don’t think it’s as fulfilling as the first film. Now that Gru is no longer a super villain, it is disappointing that we don’t have the contrast of Gru being a super villain and a father. Because most of the emotion was established in the first film, there is not as much here. It also does not help that the film seems too short. The innocence and hilarity of his three daughters adds a significant charm to the father/daughter relationship. The movie has a romance between Gru and Lucy and considering the daughters do talk about their desire to have a mother, I think it is pretty obvious where the relationship is heading. It doesn’t have as many heartfelt moments as the first movie, but it is somewhat expected based on the advertising of the movie. It’s made to be a mindless movie.
While the plot may be predictable and somewhat thin, it makes up for it in terms of comedy and characterization. It’s energetic, and Lucy and “El Macho” bring the sort of comedy I wanted. Lucy is upbeat and energetic while “El Macho” is more comedic rather than serious. The little girls have jokes based on their age and personalities, the minions still provide tons of laughs, and Gru’s arrogance can sometimes have no boundaries. There’s plenty of slapstick comedy that reminded me of the days of watching Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes in the morning, and anything that does that gets my seal of approval. It’s clever, quotable, and thankfully, it’s not one of those movies that have the funniest parts in the trailer.
The animation was great as well. It is like a two-dimensional cartoon in a three-dimensional world and with the lack of two dimensional films these days, it is much appreciated. The character designs are interesting; they are fast, fluid, and very colorful. With all the darker films these days, it’s great to see some color and variety in the box office.
The voice acting is solid. Steve Carell brings his usual comedic charm to the table, and I give him props for voicing the whole thing in a fake Russian accent. The three actresses who portray the daughters also give their characters the cuteness they needed. Kristen Wiig does a fantastic job making her character energetic and likable and Benjamen Bratt was charming and entertaining with his accent as “El Macho.”
The usual criticism I hear for the movie is “too much Minions, not enough plot” and does it apply? You bet. They get a lot of screen time compared to some of the main characters. It’s no surprise that the Minions might get more focus over other characters due to their marketability. Though unlike the Smurfs, they’re funny, memorable, and they don’t need Neil Patrick Harris for you to see their movie. This might be a large concern for some people, but this is a film that has hats made of nachos. I think they’re allowed to get away with a few things.
Overall, Despicable Me 2 was a fun and likable comedy that can be good for kids and adults (depending on the mindset at least). It’s fast paced, with great comedy and memorable characters. While it may not have as much charm or as good of a plot as the first one, it’s still a film that’s fun for all ages, which is more than I can say for other animated films released this year.