January 27, 2014

Despicable Me 2 Review

          One of the most surprising nominations during the Academy Awards announcement from a statistical point of view came in the Best Animated Feature category.  There has never been an Animated Feature nominee who didn’t have one of its predecessors also nominated until this year when Despicable Me 2 garnered a nomination despite Despicable Me not doing the same.  If being a massive box office hit and receiving solid reviews are pre-requisites for getting nominated in this category, then Despicable Me 2 certainly met those.  However, the only thing that Despicable Me 2 really is, is a slight improvement over its disappointing predecessor.  Despicable Me 2 shows some maturity in that it attempts to cover unchartered subject matter for animated films, but most of that is gone to waste with immature jokes and a main storyline that still isn’t interesting.

            Despicable Me 2 begins with the capture of a dangerous device that can turn people into extremely aggressive monsters.  Being in such a dire situation, the Anti-Villain League has nowhere to turn to but one of their old nemesis, Gru (voiced by Steve Carell).  Yet Gru has other problems to deal with along the way such as raising his daughters while still trying to find time to meet someone for himself.  The film reunites the directing team (Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud) and the writing team (Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio) of the first film.

            As a sequel this film is quite successful.  Instead of completely focusing on the plot, the directors and writers find time to further develop the characters.  This allows for some very interesting material on father-daughter relationships (which don’t really get much attention in animated films).  Unfortunately, the first film in this series wasn’t very good to begin with, and this film brings along with it a lot that didn’t work in the first film.  The humor is still lazy, the characters can get annoying very quickly, and the animation isn’t anything special (which is not good in an age where every other animated film is throwing down the gauntlet for how great animated films can look visually).

            The voice cast is once again the film’s main strongpoint.  Steve Carell is excellent as Gru as he makes what could have been a very gimmicky voice into the heart and soul of the film.  Benjamin Bratt and Kristen Wiig are solid in new roles, and Miranda Cosgrove gets a lot to work with in an expanded role as Gru’s oldest daughter.

            Despicable Me 2 is a slight improvement from the first film but still remains a problematic and immature film.


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