Film Review: 'Despicable Me 2'


DespicableMe2 Photo by Courtesy photo

Does a movie’s target audience contribute to how “good” it is? Can movies be objectively critiqued, disregarding outside influences? “Despicable Me 2” raises these questions because, while millions will see and love this movie, by most traditional standards, it’s an average film.

“Despicable Me 2” begins where the first left off, with our supervillain-turned-father, Gru (Steve Carell). He has settled down with his three adopted daughters and abandoned crime for a legitimate jelly business. Whereas the first chronicled Gru’s transformation from a lonely villain to a father, “Despicable Me 2” struggles with character development, as nearly everyone ends the film unchanged.

Gru and his daughters are now a happy family, and next on the agenda is getting the girls a suitable mother figure. While the love story plotline is tired and overused, in this case it represents the best aspect of the movie.

The humor of dating is well captured here. There is a busy-body neighbor constantly trying to set Gru up on dates with her ugly friends. There is an annoying but curiously likable love interest, and awkward situations galore. The trouble is that this witty humor, with timing, context, and relatability, represents a tiny portion of the laughs in the movie.

I’ve never been a fan of “Despicable Me’s” yellow minions, their humor being comparable to slipping on banana peels and pies to the face. In the first film, I found them unfunny but otherwise inoffensive. But now, they’re back with all the knobs turned to 11, and their exaggerated role in “Despicable Me 2” is almost too much.

The film revisits the notorious “fart gun” about five times. There’s a time and place for slapstick humor, but “Loony Tunes” segments were only 15 minutes long for a reason. In a feature-length movie with attempts at character development and an actual plot, slapstick should be used sparingly, and “Despicable Me 2” has absolutely no restraint.

The film is well paced, never becoming too slow, but lacks structure. A few threads begin but remain undeveloped. One example is when the oldest daughter, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove) finds a love interest, who ends up being a jerk. The lead up is well done, but it ends with one shot of him being rude, one of her being sad, and ends with no sense of resolution.

Similarly, the film’s main villain ends up barely being a character. When he finally becomes evil and starts the destruction, it’s only about a minute of screen time before he’s defeated.

The plot mostly strolls around for the first 75 percent of the movie. It ends less with a bang than with the sound a balloon makes when you blow it up and let it go.

“Despicable Me 2” is a movie that kids will love, and there are much worse films in the genre. However, some kids think “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” is a cinematic masterpiece and that Jar Jar Binks is a comic genius. More memorable children’s movies offer something more for adults, or are simply funnier than “Despicable Me 2.”

The Verdict: Despite its lack of depth, children will love it, and adults will get through it with a couple of laughs.

Reach reporter Andre Stackhouse at arts@dailyuw.com Twitter:@CaptainStack

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