Animation has the ability to either tell a great story or be a sell-out for parents to take their kids to. Sometimes studios like to give us fantastic animation, a well-told story with interesting characters, and a lot of humor and fun and sometimes they just want to stick cute creatures on a screen and watch the money rack in. Despicable Me was a sweet and clever film that followed suit with the first type of animated film and was a pleasant surprise when it came out. Despicable Me 2 builds off of the first film but never outdoes it, it just adds to the charming series.
This one follows Gru (Steve Carell) and his girls as he settles into retirement from being a villain. We catch up with him celebrating Agnes’ birthday and talking up his new jelly making business. Too bad for him the Anti-villain league wants his help in finding a powerful new criminal.
I think what makes these films so great are the way they treat single fatherhood. Gru is a perfect example of this and plays a very involved parent. I think with this not really being addressed very much in film today, it is a nice change of pace to see a movie, especially one targeted at kids, to tackle the issue and bring a nice light to it.
Another thing it does well is bring back that classic espionage that was made popular through classic James Bond films. Despicable Me contains many over-the-top gadgets and a score that creates the feeling of being a classic Bond spy movie. I think this is a nice touch especially for parents going to see it with their kids as it is a sort of portal back to those classic Connery Bonds with their crazy gadgets and thrilling stunts especially with the Bond franchise moving towards a more Bourne style recently. Fans of classic espionage films should love this series.
While I did find that the script and characters were just as good as the previous movie, I did find the villain, El Macho (Benjamin Bratt), to be a poorly constructed villain. I never felt like Gru was ever in real trouble and he kind of dissipated in a quick and unceremoniously fashion. While the first film didn’t have a truly threatening bad guy, it still gave us real peril and a reason to worry about what was happening. This villain lacked that and made it seem like everyone was never really in trouble the entire movie.
The addition of Lucy (Kristen Wiig) as a love interest for Gru was also a nice touch. While I felt like they tried to use this storyline to supplement for the girls starting to like him storyline from the first movie, it was a nice one even though it wasn’t nearly as well done as the other.
Despicable Me 2 is not close to being as good as the first one but still is an entertaining and charming animated film that is well worth seeing. It still has the humor and fun from the first and continues to be one of the better animated franchises out there now. Just be ready for a large dose of the minions as at points it seems like a big commercial for the upcoming minions movie.