Carl the Minion: Bee-do, Bee-do.
I have no qualms admitting that I was not taken with the first DESPICABLE ME. Sure, like everyone else out there, I was thoroughly amused by the millions of minions but I found the story to be terribly uneven and the humour to fall flat more often than not. The film just had an all-around odd tone to it that didn’t sit well with me but, given its success, a sequel was inevitable. While I found the first installment to be a mediocre example of the family film genre, DESPICABLE ME 2 is nothing but a further watered down version of its predecessor. There are more minions but there is less heart.
Gru, voiced again by Steve Carrell, has abandoned his previous life as a notorious and internationally renowned bad guy, to raise the three adopted daughters he initially took on as pawns in his evil plan to steal the moon. Gru has fully gone domestic now, to the point where he entertains his daughters dressed up as a fairy princess. This leaves a giant hole for some other infamously nasty outfit to take up where Gru left off, which in turn allows Gru to find his next gig. He clearly loves his girls but he finds himself feeling somewhat unfulfilled in his professional life, prompting him to accept a job working with his former enemy, the Anti-Villain League, or AVL for short. His new mission, which allows him to play with the cool spy toys his life has been messing, is to infiltrate a shopping mall to find an undercover evil villain.
Aside from this being a very poor excuse to revisit these characters, this plot line is also barely the main focus of DESPICABLE ME 2. Just like Gru’s previous outing, there is something bigger, something more emotional, happening to him without his realizing. First, he had to accept that he did in fact love the girls he eventually adopted. This time out, he has to come to terms with the fact that he is actually in love with his AVL partner, Lucy, voiced by returning player, Kristin Wiig. They may be animated characters but their on screen chemistry is pretty thin. It’s no wonder Gru didn’t realize he had feelings for Lucy right away; they were barely apparent to anyone really. And once the plot heads in that direction, any evil plans that happened to be afoot take an unfortunate backseat to the love in the room.
DESPICABLE ME 2 is a cute movie. It has enough cheekiness to crack out a few good laughs, most of which are provided by the always amusing minions. Cute is practically disposable these days though, far from memorable. While I felt the first film missed the mark, the follow-up tries to recreate the supposed magic of the first film, problems and all. As a result, the lack of originality of the first film is magnified here, exposing what can only be described as laziness on the filmmaker’s part, which is pretty despicable in my book.