d e s p i c a b l e m e 2
28th June 2013
Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud
26th June 2013
The original Despicable Me kind of sneaked up on us. A relatively modest budget animation at $69 million (Toy Story 3 from the same year cost $200 million), it has gone on to gross more than $250 million in the USA alone. The DVD sales must be phenomenal. Needless to say we loved it. Steve Carrel’s Gru was a superb invention and his gradual transformation from global super villain to caring father was a joy to behold. Throw in an inspired turn by Jason Segel as the irritating real bad guy Vector, a bunch of Minions that closely resemble the toy container you get out of a kinder egg, three endlessly cute but never cloying kiddies and you get a genuinely charming and occasionally laugh out loud funny comedy.
Fast forward three short years and we get to Despicable Me 2. Gru is spending his time pleading with unreliable children’s party acts, Dr Nefario (Gru’s erstwhile head of R&D) is getting restless with the tasks he’s been given since world crime was removed from his day job (predominantly the creation of some truly suspect jelly) and even Kyle the almost dog has stopped eating everything and now sleeps happily with Agnes. The minions meanwhile are doing what they do best. Which is increasingly act like Oompa Loompas.
What’s a villain to do? Step forward a sassy agent from the Anti-Villain League (Kirsten Wiig’s Lucy Wilde) to recruit Gru on a villain finding exercise and soon Gru is facing his life-long fear of dating whilst trying to get to the bottom of somebody else’s nefarious scheme. Meanwhile Dr. Nefarious has taken up a suspiciously timed offer of alternative employment (effectively sidelining him for much of the movie).
As with the first movie, the Minions spend the entire movie threatening to steal the show from their ‘human’ counterparts and the credit sequence at the end would seem to hint at an entire Minion movie in the making (the sequence is brilliant). They get more screen time this time around and the film is at its funniest when it is just riffing on the various tasks the minions perform, their gibberish banter and their unswerving loyalty to the boss. The special purple Minions that appear later in the movie are particularly hilarious.
Where Despicable Me 2 is completely unmatched is in its consistent ability to be utterly charming and touching without ever seeming sentimental and in looking magnificent (the shiny animation style is wonderful). The kids, Agnes in particular are completely adorable (Agnes’ description of Gru’s head – sadly given away in the trailer – is genuinely hilarious) but the writers struggle to find places for them all. Edith gets shortest shrift (middle child and all) but it’s in the bad guys that the film stutters.
Vector provided a great deal of the slapstick humour in the first film and Eduardo just doesn’t manage this. It takes too long for the chief bad guy to be discovered and then his gadgets are largely limited to a big magnet and some nasty serum and he just doesn’t have the personality of Vector. He’s just not as funny as he should be (though the image of him riding a shark on a rocket into the volcano is pretty good) and it’s a shame that Pacino is reported to have dropped out of the role as he may have brought more to it. Wiig is great fun as the fabulous Wilde and Carell’s Gru is fleshed out well, particularly with the flashbacks to his unhappy childhood.
I had a thoroughly good time watching this instalment but the long and the short of it is that it’s just not up to the standard of the first movie. Think constantly amusing with the occasional laugh out loud moment. You’ll likely come out of it wishing there has been more of what’s featured during the end credits. But then, what do I know? As a somewhat less jaded cinemagoer was heard to mention as I left the press screening “best movie ever made”. Ignore the first couple of sentences of this paragraph and take the sage words of that ten year old. The film will make you smile for the rest of the day and you will head home humming Pharrell Williams’ fantastic theme from the first movie.
Check out the Despicable Me 2 trailer here.