Despicable Me 2 escapes the sequel blues

Despicable Me 2

Is this sequel to the 2010 family hit about an evil genius and his adoptive daughters worth the trip to the theater this Independence Day weekend?

 

I’m always a little weary of sequels, especially sequels to kids’ movies. It’s way too easy for ideas to be rehashed because there’re no more stories to tell with the characters. But after catching the first Despicable Me movie on TV over Christmas, I was optimistic about its chances for a decent sequel. For a 4th of July kid release, you can do much worse.

You can easily go into this movie without seeing the first one.

The best thing I can say about the sequel is that they avoid rehashing completely. Steve Carrell’s Gru doesn’t turn evil again and he doesn’t lose his daughters’ trust when it comes to evil schemes. They took the relationships established in the first film and expanded on them. The movie actually starts with Gru being a loving, protective dad orchestrating the youngest girl’s birthday party. The whole scene is very sweet and actually quite funny and sets the tone of the whole movie. In fact, because the relationship between Gru and his girls is established quickly (along with the premise that he is an ex-villain), you can easily go into this movie without seeing the first one.

While I like the concept of the sequel’s plot (secret organization recruits him to be a spy and take down villains), the actual storyline could have been stronger. It wasn’t terrible, it just kind of fizzled. I did like that the minions were incorporated into the mystery nicely. Speaking of the minions, these are some of the most successful comic relief sidekicks in modern kids’ movies. The majority of the time they manage to be very funny. There were a few scenes with them that could have been cut (a whole chase scene towards the beginning was pointless). They also resorted to some really stupid fart jokes — if they spent that time on the story instead it could have been a stronger movie. While my eyes strained early, the 3D used for the in-your-face gags was actually kind of fun … make sure to stay during the credits.

The real strength of the movie is the relationship between Gru and his daughters.

The new love interest (played by Kristen Wiig) is charming, eccentric and a nice compliment to our hero. Again, it would have been better to take out the few bad jokes and use that time to build more of a relationship between the two, but I’ve certainly seen this sideplot done worse in kid movies. It would have been nice if they didn’t resort to her being put into the damsel role towards the end. The real strength of the movie is the relationship between Gru and his daughters. It’s genuine and sweet and a lot of the best jokes comes from the dialogue between those four characters. If you need to find a movie this holiday weekend for the kids that the adults can stomach, I’d highly suggest Despicable Me 2.

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Photo Credit: Illumination Entertainment

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