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Despicable Me 2 Review: Minions 'R' Us

By Agent Bedhead | Film Reviews | July 3, 2013 | Comments ()


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All apologies, but I no longer possess an adorable, insightful 6-year-old to lend perspective towards the family-oriented movies reviewed here. I was actually going to borrow my little niece for this movie, but her daddy won't let her catch a late-night showtime, so it was just me and the 12-year-old, who actually fell asleep during Despicable Me 2 despite a rare caffeine infusion. What I can tell you from an adult perspective is that this sequel is an even more unnecessary second installment than last month's Monsters University.

While I'd like to be able to report that Despicable Me 2, while very cute and playful, doesn't suffer from sequelitis, that would be an absolute lie on my part. This second edition of Gru & Co. is nothing but an uninspired and unimaginative rehash of the first movie, and it's not the sort of replay that should delight. I loved the first movie, but I was gritting my teeth throughout this sequel. The filmmakers seem to believe that simply amplifying the gimmicks that worked for the first film will mean audiences will be satisfied, and that may well work in terms of box-office success at the hands of a pliable, undiscriminating audience who only want to park their kids in a dark room where they'll shut their damn mouths and watch the pretty yellow things clutter the screen for over an hour.

What producers of family films seem to forget is that, when successful, these movies play on an endless repeat on living room DVD players for years, so by the time a sequel rolls around, audiences (like it or not) have nearly every detail memorized. For filmmakers to simply reproduce the first movie with a couple of changes is infuriating. Instead of an anarchic ride, the sequel simply feels like an excuse to make more money. Which it is, of course. Also, this new installment exists as a slapsticky sea of school-bus yellow Minions, so forget about story. Obviously, an engrossing plot would be totally superfluous at this point.

In Despicable Me 2, gone is the refreshing concept of a "gleefully anarchic" supervillain, Gru (Steve Carell), who found himself falling in love with three adorable orphans -- Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher) -- who are still dominating his life, by the way. Other than pulling a Dwayne Johnson by dressing up as a fairy princess to make his little girls happy, Gru is boring now (he spends his days dreaming up disastrous jelly recipes), but that's not the main problem. Instead, the overriding issue with this movie is that the Minions have taken over the franchise and completely transformed themselves from a cute, eraser-shaped running gag into an ubiquitous annoyance that dominates the entirety of the film with renditions of "YMCA" and the like. In the first movie, a small amount of Minions went a long way. In the sequel, they're running the show to ill effect.

Carrell is back as Gru, and Carell's still a delight even if his character isn't as fun this time around the block. Kristen Wiig likewise returns but as a different character; in the first movie, she voiced the Miss Hannigan-like orphan dominator, and now she pops in as a super secret agent named Lucy, who recruits Gru for the Anti-Villain League; and she has the warmies for him too. Meanwhile, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) has had enough of Gru's non-villainness, so he makes a grand departure, and Gru himself half-heartedly investigates the heist of a transformation serum at the hands of an active supervillain, El Macho (Benjamin Bratt), whose Latino character is written in an appallingly racist manner. So there's a tacked-on subplot of romance and mother-seeking on behalf of the orphans, and then the screenwriters decided that was enough to support a nearly nonexistent tale.

Admittedly, Despicable Me looks good from a technical standpoint, and the voicework is excellent with Carell and Brand taking top honors once again, but this sequel adds nothing to the original. It exists simply as reason to revisit some likable characters and give parents a reason to kick up their feet while inhaling artery-clogging theater popcorn. That might be enough for some of you, but I'm sad that Universal and Illumination decided that pimping the Minions (after all, they'll look great underneath your Christmas tree) took priority over the spirit of inventiveness that dominated the first film.

*****SPOILER ALERT*****








In the end, we find out that the Minions are getting their own spin-off movie. Surprise, surprise.

Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Foo. Sounds about right--everyone I know who's seen it just seems to say "I loved the Minions!" and...well, yeah, but just give them their own thing and don't make an unnecessary sequel. I wasn't planning on seeing it in theaters, anyway.

  • Pinky McLadybits

    I really liked Despicable Me 2. Gru actually grew from the last movie and remained changed, unlike some sequels that just reset characters to the way they were in the original. The minions were around a lot, but that didn't bother me too much. It was a simple plot, even with the love interest and mom-seeking.

  • PDamian

    I saw it this evening with a friend and her small kiddies. The kiddies LOVED it, as did the hordes of children with us in the theatre. I liked it well enough; it's not nearly as good as the first, but it'll do. And I adore the Minions, then and now, so more of them is fine by me.

    Slight spoilers ahead:
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    I am wondering, though: what was racist about El Macho? Yes, he's a stereotype, but not a particularly negative stereotype, or even a particularly offensive one. Was it the lucha libre mask? The tattoo? The fact that he runs a restaurant? These are all tropes that Mexicans and Chicanos use and laugh at all the time. Full disclosure: I'm a second-generation Chicana, and the friend and kiddies with whom I saw the film are Chicanos as well. Are we allowed to laugh at ourselves?

  • ferryman

    Apparently not. Laughing at yourself is verboten if it causes someone else to feel uncomfortable.

  • Jill

    I just saw this with a 3yo and a 5yo girl. They enjoyed it and laughed quite a bit. I like Wiig, but her character was the most annoying part for me. I didn't mind the minions that much. The 1st DM is also one of my favorite kid's movies so I was looking forward to this one. I wasn't disappointed.

    I thought MU was pretty good (but I can't remember the 1st one so I didn't get some of the gags in the 2nd) and I still thought this was better. Oh, and I would pick this over that piece of crap Epic any day.

  • Gavin Smith

    Damn you!

  • NateMan

    LALALALALALA NOT LISTENING. I want to be awesome. Still, thanks for the honest review!

  • Jifaner

    Aww man. The first is one of my all-time fave kids' movies.

  • Fredo

    Shame. I loved the first one and I thought this would be my escape movie to avoid having to go see WWZ or Lone Bird on Head. Damn it.

  • L.O.V.E.

    Oh please, PLEASE be wrong on this. I am going to have to watch this on dvd at least 3 kagillion times. I actually enjoyed the first one. I don't ask for much. Can this at least be considered a half-decent facsimile?

  • luckypete

    Not really worked up over this or Monsters University but we're flying back to Tulsa and are taking my daughter to her first drive-in at Admiral twin... and they're showing both. So, we'll see you there Agent Bedhead (though not in a creepy stalker way at all).

  • Green Lantern

    When did the Admiral Twin reopen?

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