Sunday, July 7, 2013

Despicable Me 2 Review

Despicable Me 2 Review

Back in 2010, I was a big fan of "Despicable Me," and I hoped that Illumination Entertainment would become the next big animation studio. I hoped it would get the same clout that Disney/Pixar and Dreamworks Animation have been receiving each year, and that we would be rich with animated tales for years to come. Ever since "Despicable Me" though, the studio has been pretty slow, both "Hop" and "The Lorax" are very light pieces of entertainment. They certainly didn't land with the same impact that "Despicable Me" did.

This takes us to "Despicable Me 2," a film I quite enjoyed. It's big fun for the whole family and its a great audience film. My girlfriend and I saw this in a pact theater, adults and children alike were laughing and bellowing. The film received a round of applause as the credits began to roll. There is plenty here to make you laugh and there is plenty here to make you tear up. Unfortunately, I don't find this sequel better than the first film.

When we meet Gru (Steve Carrell) in this sequel, he has become a full-fledged family man. The birthday party for Agnes (Elsie Fisher) goes off without a hitch. In the birthday party scene alone, there will be plenty to laugh at, so keep your eyes open. After the party, Agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) of the Anti-Villain League (AVL) takes Gru to her headquarters (quite hilariously I might add.). Turns out, The AVL wants to recruit Gru as an undercover agent to find out who stole a very powerful serum from the Arctic Circle. What is this serum? Let's just say it can turn any organism into a purple, Hulk-like creature. Agent Wilde and Gru become partners, creating a cupcake shop as a front in a mall, as they suspect the villain has his home base there.

Everything I liked about the first film is better this time out. I love how each actor disappears into their voices. I could not tell you that Russell Brand does the voice of Dr. Nefario, nor that Benjamin Bratt shows up as Eduardo Perez, who owns a Mexican restaurant and may not be who he says he is. Each actor does very good voice work. If you loved the minions the first time out, get ready for them to steal the show again. In the sequel, the minions (as well as Dr. Nefario) are crucial to the plot; they are not just funny side notes this time out.

So why did I like the first film more than the sequel? Honestly, with so much cool gadgetry, international superspies, and big laughs, the film just never quite comes off exciting. The big showdown at the end of the film is the most anti-climatic ending to an animated film that I have seen in quite awhile. The film just never really takes off like it should, it never lives up to its ambitions. I am not sad about what is in the movie, I am sad about what is not in the movie. With all that is going on, this should be epic. However, with all it's ideas, "Despicable Me 2" is pretty tame. I like what is there, but the film left me hungry for more. And I never had that feeling when I left the theater back in 2010.

But hey, what do I know? The film got a standing ovation when the lights came up today. If you haven't seen this yet, go see it. Bring the whole family, because this film appeals to the children and the adults. Just for my tastes, it did not live up to the first film. It may not be that way for everyone. It's still big summer fun and for how slow this summer has been since early June, I'll raise a glass to "Despicable Me 2." Overall, its a big bag of awesome.


FINAL GRADE: B+

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