Despicable Me 2 – Less Despicable, More Cutsey?

ImageSo the sequel to the frankly brilliant Despicable Me has finally arrived! Just to be quick, here is the basic plot for those who haven’t got it by watching the trailer. Super villain turned loving adoptive father Gru is called upon by the Anti-Villain League, well, more stuffed into the new and overzealous agent Lucy Wilde’s car boot, to find and bring a new super villain to justice. Gru and Lucy then must work together to find the new super villain in the most diabolical of lairs – a shopping mall. SHOCK! HORROR! Yet the greatest danger of all is yet to come, the one that Gru fears the most of all: Margo has become interested in boys! DUN DUN DUHHHH!

There are so many questions left over from the first film that still needed answering. Will we finally see what happened to Vector or his father Mr Perkins at the Bank of Evil? Will Dr. Nefario finally get his comeuppance for forcing Gru to return Margo, Edith and Agnes to Miss Hattie’s Home for Girls? Will we ever find the Minion who floated away into space!? Well… no. The sequel is more of a standalone that appears to draw on Despicable Me only for references to the fact that Gru stole the moon. While one can criticise its lack of continuity with its predecessor, at least it isn’t shackled completely to the original, and it tries to go in a new, though still tangibly linked, direction. However it does feel a little like they watched Megamind and copied its central premise of “villain becomes good guy” and, although it does do it better than Megamind, copying an unoriginal idea isn’t always good; though I think they manage to get away with it.

One thing I do love about this film is where the villain is hiding. Is it a demoniacally shaped volcano? A secret island base shaped like a skull? No, it’s in a typical American Mall. I love how it turned the usual notion of villain hideouts on its head in typical Despicable Me style. It is not too ostentatious with it; it just goes, look at this: this is where a super villain of epic proportions is hiding, allowing you to wonder quite weird thoughts the next time you are wandering down the high street that a super villain could be setting shop in W H Smiths or Greggs, or that might be just me. It is such a simple way to provide a contrast and humour in a downplayed way.

Yet, despite this new and entertaining look at Gru’s life after stealing the moon, it does go a bit rom-com which, although not necessarily bad, is not original like Despicable Me was. You could even say that it is like a stale idea clinging on parasitically to originality, sucking it dry and moving on to the next original idea. And while Kristen Wiig’s Lucy Wilde complements Gru quite aptly, and they do build some good chemistry during the film, it does make you wonder why this storyline has been implemented. And in all honesty the answer is very obvious. I know this counts as a spoiler, but if have not guessed this as an eventuality you need not donate your brain to scientific research; she is wife material for Gru’s hodgepodge family, completing all the hair colours, and lack of hair, to cover the entire hair spectrum.

There is no problem with it really. It is interesting to watch their relationship blossom and it really provides some good comedy throughout the film, however I do have one Imageniggle with this, and the niggle is simple. Why does Gru need a wife? Nothing is wrong with how it was implemented and they are a good couple, but why did Gru need a wife? They could have asserted a strong single father who can take care of three young girls and may have been more reflective of actual society, allowing the film to have more adult and realistic undertones. But no, children’s films need happy endings, and happy endings obviously include a mum, a dad, and a bundle of kids. For a film that turns the super villain archetype on its head, it almost seems weird how it could not do this with traditional relationships.

Another point of issue is Edith. She does absolutely nothing. Margo has the whole being “interested in boys” thing to keep her in the plot and Agnes is… well, Agnes. She’s still freaking cute (despite a voice sounding older than her body), funny and links the mum storyline with general plot. But Edith, the most she says is “Ewww” to Margo’s developing interest in boys. It is a real shame because in Despicable Me, she was at least interesting as the tomboy and her love for violence, but in Despicable Me 2 she does not even have that which becomes even more prevalent as the film progresses. It feels as if she was stuck in only because she was in thefirst movie. Seriously, she may have not even have been there and you probably would not have noticed. There was a real way to get Edith a more present role in the film, i.e.: make her more involved in Gru’s activities than the other girls, but the writers didn’t seem to pick up on that opportunity, or maybe they’re going to use it in another sequel. Possibly.

But hurrah, something I can say, without spoiling too much, that the movie does that I thought it needed to do in the first movie. It deals with Dr. Nefario and his need to do evil. Dr. Nefario leaves Gru’s service in order to continue doing evil, something which was left wanting in the original Despicable Me and I found it great that they got round to dealing with this outstanding issue from the first film.Image

Despicable Me 2, while not as original as its predecessor, it still is definitely worth watching. It’s funny, has a decent plot and there a minions which are always a good addition to a film. There were always going to be problems with trying to capture the originality of the first film, but Despicable Me 2 manages a stalwart effort without trying to do too much. And while I don’t think Despicable Me will survive any more sequels, I do look forward to the imaginatively named Minions spin-off due in late 2014. I wonder what that is going to be about, he asked very sarcastically. Let’s just hope the Despicable Me series isn’t just preparing itself to go down the black hole of making sequels for sequels sake like Shrek and enjoy what Gru has brought to the table at the moment, because what he has brought is pretty damn good stuff.

7/10

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