Movie review: Despicable Me 2
05:00 AM, Jul 03, 2013
One of the more dramatic moments in movies is when (sigh: spoiler alert) Darth Vader reveals to Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back that he is Luke’s father.
Shocks and chills all around, even now.
Imagine a sequel in which Darth Vader didn’t die, but instead hosts birthday parties and play dates for his son, and you’ll have an idea of where Despicable Me 2 is headed.
You miss that evil black heart.
In the original film, released in 2010, Gru (voice of Steve Carell), an evil mastermind (sort of) in the competitive world of being a bad guy, plotted to steal the moon. This plan was complicated by his adoption of the adorable little girls Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher).
By the end of the first film, Gru was putting aside his evil ways to concentrate on being a dad. In the sequel, the transformation is complete. He is, indeed, hosting birthday parties for his girls, and has tasked the also formerly evil Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) with turning his warped mind to making a line of jams and jellies.
However, when a serum that turns mild-mannered bunnies into savage killers is stolen from the Arctic Circle (don’t spend too much time on the details, you’ll just get a headache), a top-secret outfit called the Anti-Villain League recruits Gru to find the culprit.
Gru is reluctant but eventually agrees, and is paired with a goofy, green agent named Lucy Wilde (Brighton High School graduate Kristen Wiig). Gru’s daughters see the possibility of romance. Gru, for reasons explained in hilariously sad fashion (one of the few nods to dark humor remaining), does not.
But come on. You know where that’s headed.
You know where it’s all headed, really. Neither directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, nor screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul try to hide much. Which isn’t to say there aren’t some laughs. Carell’s Gru provides some, as does Wiig, though you can’t shake the feeling that she ought to be, you know, funnier somehow.
And if you are a fan of the Minions, the cute little yellow creatures in the first film who assisted Gru in his schemes, you are in luck. They often take over the film, their hijinks stretching things out, as the main plot is simple enough that it wouldn’t take much time to resolve.
If you don’t like the Minions, this is going to be a long slog.
Benjamin Bratt is good as Eduardo, the owner of a Mexican restaurant in a mall where the AVL thinks the serum may be hidden. Eduardo’s son Antonio (Moises Arias) is a little heartbreaker with eyes for Margo, much to Gru’s chagrin.
If it sounds like a lot of elements thrown together, that’s because it is. The meandering story won’t bother small children, probably, but remember, someone has to take them.
But there’s also this: No matter what pressing, world-threatening event requires his attention, if one of his girls needs him, Gru drops what he’s doing and attends to it. Not always successfully (not even usually), but there is something endearing about his devotion to his family. In terms of creating a good-guy character, this goes a long way.
Which is ultimately the problem. A too-good Gru is a boring Gru. No matter how much you crank up the adorability factor or offer up the occasional laugh, there is no getting around that.