Despicable Me 2 (2013)

Despicable Me 2 unleashed upon to the world “Happy,” a song by Pharrell Williams. For that reason alone, the film deserves to be lambasted and thrown in bargain bins for committing such an atrocity. “Happy” is one of the worst songs I’ve had to listen to. It fills me with such a rage for reasons that I actually can’t explain. It’s so enraging that it’s honestly difficult for me to pay any attention to the rest of the movie, and the song’s only in the picture for like a minute, if that.

Despicable Me wasn’t a particularly special movie that creatively warranted a sequel, but it made a lot of money and kids seemed to love it, so here we go with Despicable Me 2. Gru (voice of Steve Carell) is no longer even trying to be evil. Instead, he’s been recruited by the Anti-Villain League, paired with Lucy (Kristen Wiig), and placed inside of a mall in order to try to figure out—and subsequently stop—who in the mall is a villain who’s stolen a MacGuffin that could ruin everything for everyone. Or something like that. It doesn’t matter.

Meanwhile, the three kids he adopted in the last film have their own things going on. Well, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove) does. She’s got a crush in the form of Antonio (Moises Arias). The other girls don’t get to do a whole lot, and even Margo’s subplot just exists because watching fathers dislike their teenage daughters dating is funny—and also for spoiler reasons. All three of them also try to get Gru to find a romantic partner. Wouldn’t you know it: Lucy is available. Yes, we get the obligatory romance that we had thankfully skipped out on last time.

Kids love Gru’s minions, or at least we have to assume the filmmakers believe they do, since the minions—yellow blob-like creatures who speak gibberish—take up a greater amount of time and focus this time around. That’s not a good thing for anyone over the age of, I don’t know, ten or so, probably. They’re annoying, they’re not particularly bright, and they are disposable and same-y. Nothing about them requires our attention, but they’re marketable, so let’s put them front and center!

Despicable Me 2 is an uninteresting sequel that feels as if it exists simply to make money.

There isn’t a whole lot going on under the surface of Despicable Me 2. There wasn’t much in the first movie, either, but it’s even worse this time around. It feels like a sequel that happened solely to make money, not tell an interesting story or provide its audience with anything on which to chew. I know, it’s a kids’ movie, but that isn’t an excuse, is it? Lots of kids’ movies are smart enough that adults can get something out of them. What does Despicable Me 2 have to offer other than some color and a bit of comedy?

At least it is a colorful movie with a bunch of different environments and some solid computer generated animation. If there’s one thing these movies do well, it’s the animation. They’re pretty to look at. That can only get you so far, though, and since neither story has been particularly impressive, and Gru is the closest thing we have to a strong character, the animation is in service of material that isn’t worthy of it.

Steve Carell continues to provide solid voice work as Gru. His Russian accent hasn’t improved, but it fits the character nicely. Kristen Wiig is energetic as Lucy, but Lucy is so bland and uninteresting that it’s hard to care. Benjamin Bratt plays a masked man who reminds Gru of a former villain and gets some laughs out of that. Russell Brand returns as Dr. Nefario, although he’s in the film far less than he was last time. Mostly, this is a movie focused on Gru and Gru’s antics (and his minions), and it’s a great thing that Carell is really good at playing him.

Despicable Me 2 is an uninteresting sequel that feels as if it exists exclusively to make money. It isn’t progressing its character or telling a story that’s involving; instead, it shoves the minions in our faces and delivers a dull plot filled with one-note characters. It’s visually sharp, but its animation is in service of things that don’t deserve it. A longer timeout needed to be taken between movies to figure out a story with these characters that was worth telling. This isn’t it.

Conclusion: Despicable Me 2 gave us more minions and “Happy.” It should be burned at the stake—even if it isn’t awful as a film.

Recommendation: Skip!

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