Sunday, January 19, 2014

Movie #240: Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2 is, of course, the sequel to Despicable Me. It stars Steve Carell, Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Elsie Fisher, and Dana Gaier.

Gru (Carell) has retired from supervillainy), and is just trying to be a more or less normal single dad to his three adopted daughters. This all gets interrupted, however, when he's kidnapped by Lucy (Wiig), the hyper-enthusiastic agent of the Anti-Villain League, for recruitment to stop distribution of a crazy chemical that turns any creature injected with it into a purple, indestructible killing machine. Gru, however, can't be arsed, and goes back to trying to make a line of jellies. His scientist, Dr. Nefario (Brand) quits, however, wanting to go back to being evil.

Gru relents, for reasons that aren't entirely clear (mostly out of boredom, I think) and goes with Lucy to a mall, where the chemical has supposedly been spotted. There, he recognizes the owner of a Mexican restaurant as El Macho (Bratt), a former supervillain who supposedly died some years back. There's some sidetracking with a dude who makes toupees and El Macho's son hitting on Gru's daughter, but it turns out the real plot is to steal Gru's little yellow minions and turn them into an unstoppable army.

So, this movie is nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar. It's cute, and it's funny, but I have some issues. First, the subplot with Antonio (Moises Arias), El Machio's son, is never resolved. Gru freezes him when he breaks Margot's (Cosgrove) heart, but then El Macho gets captured at the end - where does that leave Antonio? And why did El Macho fake his death in the first place? It might have been for his son, but where was that subplot (and holy shit, what an awesome bit of synchronicity for El Macho and Gru to bond - or disagree - over)?

Also, Lucy, while she's funny and manic and cute and all, still winds up getting damsel'd and rescue. She doesn't really manage to do much in her own defense. So is this movie about Gru?

Kind of...but he doesn't have a character arc like he did in the first movie. He has a plot arc (he falls in love with Lucy), but mostly the movie is just a lot of minion jokes interspersed with shit to move the plot forward.

Don't get me wrong - it's entertaining. But it's up against The Croods and Frozen (and two other movies I haven't seen), which both did interesting things with their stories, and it doesn't stack up well against other recent animated movies. Kinda disappointing, since the characters are pretty interesting. And I still like that Gru knows all his minions by name.

My Grade: C+
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: Technically Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban, but that's if I don't buy The Croods first