Robert's Review of Despicable Me 2
Despicable Me 2(2013)
Sequels to animated features don't have an impressive track record. There are exceptions such as Toy Story but most just feel unnecessary. Despicable Me 2 falls somewhere in the middle although occasionally switches sides from bleh to greatness. Ultimately, it just settles in the middle though. That isn't said with negative connotations though. Things definitely could have been worse. Despicable Me 2 may not live up to its predecessor or end up in contention for Best Animated feature but it is solid summer animation fare. Whether you are bringing children or are just personally interested, there are worse ways to spend your money.
Despicable Me 2 picks up where the original left off. Gru (Steve Carell) is a retired villain who lives out his days with the adopted three daughters from the original. He is contacted (more like knocked unconscious and delivered) to an anti-villain agency seeking Gru's help by a female spy played by Kristen Wiig. Gru is apprehensive at first but when his daughters bring up that they'd like a mother, he accepts. Despicable Me 2 has a sense of refreshment going for it that alleviates it from being a repeat sequel. It's mostly about tackling a new dilemma in the universe revolving around spies and gadgets. It's got some basic themes of relationships and love that fit within the context among the charm that brought audiences in to the original.
With all that said I can't really claim the movie as anything special. The plot is incredibly cliché to a point where I'm unsure if the writers even tried. The direction Despicable Me 2 goes results in a situation where villains play second fiddle to the surrounding story arcs. Benjamin Bratt and Ken Jeong try but it's tough to stand out in animated feature with limited screen time and hollow characterization. The tradeoff is a more personal story regarding Gru and his daughters with varying mileage pending on who is watching.
Obviously the yellow, overall sporting, twinkie shaped (sometimes one eyed) minions return to spark an unprecedented level of charm into various scenes. One aspect Despicable Me 2 nails is the awareness of how to make minions more relevant to the plot and when to have them on screen. I love when the minions are subtlety in the background interacting and not hogging center stage. Too much of the minions can be a distraction and detraction which the writers understood. Instead the minions are used to enhance scenes.
Despicable Me 2 is a mixed bag of elements all coming back to the centric plot. It makes some aspects more enjoyable while hindering others. In a nutshell though it's entertaining family friendly fun and a respectable sequel judging it on its own merits. I only hope the third film manages to balances its themes with a memorable villain.