BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - As the trailer so gleefully announces: “That’s right baby, Gru is back in the game!” It has been three years since Illumination Entertainment put themselves on the map with their surprise animated hit, Despicable Me. With no previous films and no franchise behind it, the film charmed its way into the hearts of millions with the story of a super-villain with the heart of a hero and an army of the cutest yellow pill shaped, jibberish speaking Minions with a strange affinity for bananas. If you haven’t seen the first one, what are you doing reading this? Go watch it right now.
I am being completely honest when I say that Despicable Me is in my top ten favorite movies. The perfect combination of heart, hilarity and fluffy unicorn toys, I fell in love with it the first time I saw it in theatres. It was something else besides the usual summertime popcorn fare, and for a kids movie, it was surprisingly culturally aware. When they subtitled the “Bank of Evil” as “formerly known as Lehman Brothers,” I knew we had some intelligent writers behind this film. Needless to say, I had very high expectations for the sequel. While I loved the sequel, it really can’t measure up to the original. That being said, Despciable Me 2, is one of the best movies of the summer for anyone to enjoy.
Chock full of equally as many pop culture references, from Gollum to Hugh Jackman to the actually ingenious tortilla chip hat filled with guacamole, this film sequentially follows the storyline of the first one. Gru, no longer a super villain, takes on his new role as super dad to his three adopted daughters. Gru is forced out of retirement to take down a new super villain by the Anti-Villain League. That’s old hat compared to the other situation he’s forced into: dating.
While the original film focused mainly on the relationship between Gru and the precocious orphans he ends up adopting, the sequel focuses on Gru, and one of his daughters to his endless chagrin, finding love. Gru is loathe to get involved in relationships since he’s always been a sort of outcast, as the sad flashback vignette to his childhood shows us. He’s reluctant to give in to his blooming feelings for his new partner in anti-crime, but with a little help from his girls and his minions, he learns how to show his love. But not before hilariously torching a phone on fire because he’s afraid to call and ask her on a date.
Gru and Lucy and the little girls provide the heart, while the Minions provide the laughs. I don’t know what it is about these roly-poly bespectacled creatures that make me love them, but I won’t question it. They’re clumsy, prone to violent slapping fights, dress up in silly costumes, speak some made-up language and are incredibly loyal to Gru. The Minions are the most recognizable character from the franchise and the marketing team has focused on them very heavily while promoting this film. They’re actually getting their own film next year, which shall be interesting to see how they’ll manage story telling without any actual English words being spoken.
The sequel falls a bit flat to its predecessor in the fact that the adversary to Gru is not quite as developed as Vector, the socially awkward sweatsuit aficionado, was. I won’t specify who exactly the main villain is for avoiding spoilers, but you just don’t really feel the same satisfaction between the matchup between the two of them. Also, besides the adorable birthday party scene in the very beginning, Margo, Edith and Agnes seem like a bit of an afterthought within the plot of the story. I understand that the focus of the film is on Gru’s romantic relationship, but the little girls are the soul of the movie and they seemed to be just thrown in from time to time just to remind the audience that they are still there.
That being said, my cheeks still hurt by the end of the movie from laughing so much, and if you’re a fan of the first film, regardless of how old you are, you will enjoy this film wholeheartedly. I saw it in 3D and with so many lackluster 3D outings as of late, this one is definitely worth it if you like the 3D effects. Also, it’s fun to watch the kids in the audience reach out and try to pop the bubbles that look like they’re coming out of the screen. So grab your fluffy unicorn toy, and go catch Despicable Me 2 in theatres.
Despicable Me 2 is rated PG for rude humor and mild action. The runtime is 98 minutes. Read more about the film here.
Also check back next week for my review of Guillermo del Toro’s action film Pacific Rim.