Movie Review: Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2

I don’t mind sequels… in fact, many of my favorite movies have been sequels (The Empire Strikes Back, Godfather Part II)… but I do wish film makers would get more creative with their naming conventions.  Simply adding a 2 to the end of something lacks creativity (A little trivia for you… do you know what movie first tacked a 2 to the end of it’s title to represent a sequel?  I’ll give the answer at the bottom of this post), unless of course that 2 is followed by:  Electric Bugaloo… then it’s acceptable.  If I had my druthers, this film would have been, Too Despicable… or perhaps even, Look Who’s Despicable Too… but alas…

Now that I have my very minor gripe out of the way… what are my thoughts on Despicable Me 2 itself?  I admit, I was dreading this movie.  I enjoyed the first one, way more than I anticipated I would… but when I heard that Gru had become a good guy in the sequel, I had visions of minions dancing in my head and I shuddered at the notion.  Sure they were cute in the original, but after the last three years of having to see various commercials and shorts featuring those weird little yellow pill-people, I was worried.

I worried for nothing.  The minions are there, but are not really the focus of the movie (although, they play a major role in the plot… but I won’t give that away)… and although Gru is now a supposed good guy trying to legitimize his business by making jams and jellies thanks to him having found love in the form of three cute little girls, he is still an irascible, prickly jerk… but with his girls, he is like butter.  As the father of two girls, I can totally relate.

Like a classic Bond film, the movie opens with an Arctic lab being stolen by a huge flying magnet… we don’t know why, and we don’t know who… but we immediately know who it is not, Gru.  Gru is busy throwing a party for the youngest of his three girls, the unicorn loving Agnes.  Edith, the middle girl has now become a sword wielding ninja, and Margo is at the age when boys suddenly become something other than objects to scorn and mock (my oldest is currently at this age, so, much of the angst Gru will experience later in the film was very, very, very relevant to me… I may have to post something about my current experiences with a little boy who is currently causing my daughter to talk on the phone for hours, spend another few hours texting, and hanging out with this boy two weekends in a row… we’ll see about that).  Unfortunately, the fairy princess can’t make the party, so Gru dresses up and does his best to please his daughter.

All the while, one of his neighbors, the overbearing Jillian, is determined to set Gru up on a date… and he wants none of it.  We get a flashback into his past as to why he may not be so comfortable with the fairer sex, and it recalls all of the flashbacks from the original film as to why he was obsessed with the moon… in fact, in the flashback is a reference to the moon landing.  Very nice detail.

The film begins in earnest as Gru is kidnapped by Lucy (Kristin Wiig) and brought to the secret underwater submarine base of the AVL, the Anti-Villain League, headed up by Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan).  They want to recruit him to track down the baddie who stole the arctic lab, and find out what has happened to a secret formula that can turn the most docile of creatures into a killing machine… and their research has led them to a mall, where Gru and his new partner Lucy must deduce who stole the formula and stop them before they do something worse.

I was very pleasantly surprised with Despicable Me 2.  It wasn’t just a rehash of the original, yet it did a great job of moving the characters forward in a believable way and giving us a number of situations that felt organic to the story without feeling shoe-horned in for a gag, a very common issue that animated movies fall prey to (see any Shrek sequel to get my meaning), or worse yet… turning the first film’s comic relief into the main character (see Cars 2… although I understand the minions will be getting their own film next year… groan).

Lately I haven’t seen too many kids movies, which is good on one hand, I’ve been able to avoid a lot of crap, but stinks when there is a cartoon I actually want to see, like Monsters University.  The woman who watches my girls during the days when Mrs. Blahg and I are working has been taking them to see most of the kids fare these days… so I was quite happy when we could all go together as a family to see Despicable Me 2.  It was worth every penny… because, if there is any message these movies try to teach us, it’s that love can, and will, melt the iciest of hearts… freeze ray be damned!

Damned little boys, 
Cornelius J. Blahg

Trivia Answer:  The French Connection 2

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