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Movie Review: Despicable Me 2

July 3, 2013

Despicable Me 2 PosterDespicable Me 2 – A Universal Pictures’ Release

http://despicableme.com

Release Date: July 3rd, 2013

Rated G for cartoon action

Running time: 98 minutes

Pierre Coffin (dir.)

Chris Renaud (dir.)

Ken Daurio (screenplay)

Cinco Paul (screenplay)

Heitor Pereira (music)

Pharrell Williams (music)

Steve Carell as Gru (voice)

Kristen Wiig as Lucy (voice)

Benjamin Bratt as Eduardo (voice)

Miranda Cosgrove as Margo (voice)

Dana Gaier as Edith (voice)

Elsie Fisher as Agnes (voice)

Russell Brand as Dr. Nefario (voice)

Ken Jeong as Floyd (voice)

Steve Coogan as Silas Ramsbottom (voice)

Moises Arias as Antonio (voice)

Despicable Me 2

©Universal Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Gru (Steve Carell) and two of his Minions in Despicable Me 2.

Our reviews below:

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Despicable Me 2 Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

I was a big fan of the first Despicable Me back in 2010, and the wonderfully offbeat film with a heart of gold went on to become a major box office hit around the world.  Although Despicable Me 2 doesn’t feel as fresh and has some elements that don’t really work, this sequel also has moments and even whole sequences that feel worthy of following the high standards set by the superior original.

After trying to steal the moon, Gru (Steve Carell) has completely cleaned up his villain act and is now a full time father to his three adopted girls, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher).  Launching an unsuccessful line of jellies made by the elderly Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) and his troop of adorable yellow Minions, while still finding time to throw an amusing birthday party for little Agnes, Gru has gone from super villain to stay at home Dad.  But then he is recruited by Agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) to join to Anti-Villain League run by the humorously named Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan), to help with tracking down a stolen scientific experiment.

The suspected villain this time is Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt), and the unfortunate Mexican stereotypes of the character provide some of the weakest moments in Despicable Me 2.  A thankfully brief subplot involving the genuinely creepy Evil Minions, which are purple with crazy hair, is more off putting than entertaining and feels kind of pointless in comparison to the actual outcome of the film.  You would be hard pressed to find any of the initial charm during a climactic battle that plays in cartoonish fashion with blobs of red jelly standing in for something else.  These underdeveloped secondary plots just take time away from the more human heart that is on display throughout the best parts of the film.

There are parts of this sequel that do feel worthy of following the original.  The romance that blossoms between Gru and Lucy is quite sweet, leading up to a “first date” sequence that is one of the funniest things in the film.  The three girls are just as adorable as they were in the first film, and the new songs by Pharrell Williams are excellent, including the self explanatory “Happy” and the infectious “Just A Cloud of Away.”  All of the antics involving the Minions in their original yellow glory are priceless, including two hilarious musical performances that play over a delightful sequence at the end, closing the film on a genuine high note.  We even get another demonstration of how 3D is supposed to be done during the end credits, which plays as a teaser for the upcoming standalone adventure for the Minions.

The scenes with the lame Mexican stereotypes and creepy Evil Minions don’t live up to the potential of the first one or even the rest of the film.  But the sequences involving the original characters, including the delightful yellow Minions and the burgeoning romance between Gru and Lucy are quite charming, and overall make the generally entertaining Despicable Me 2 worth seeing for families.

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Despicable Me 2 Review by Erin V.

**1/2 (out of 4)

Three years ago, a movie came out called Despicable Me.  It was one movie that year that surprised me – I didn’t expect much going in, but it came to be a favourite for me due to its heartfelt and genuine storytelling.  After being a surprise hit at the box office, the film was destined to have a sequel and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t anticipating getting to see one.  But, I also knew that the bar had been set incredibly high with the first film, and chances were it would be hard for Despicable Me 2 to hold up to it.

In Despicable Me 2, ex-villain Gru (Steve Carrell) has settled into his life with his three adopted daughters Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher).  He still lives above his secret lab run by Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) and multitude of hilarious yellow Minions.  The Minions won me over completely in the first film, and their antics and arguments (spoken in their own Minion language) are always fun to watch.  But Gru’s lab now makes jelly instead of villainous plans and Dr. Nefario is getting tired of not being a villain anymore.  When the Anti-Villain-League calls Gru (as an ex-villain) to help them catch a notorious criminal who is destined to be a new super-villain, he ends up partnered with local AVL agent Lucy (Kristin Wiig) and this is where the story really begins.

The parts with Gru and the girls (in particular Agnes) are sweet as they were in the first film.  In fact, the stuff at Gru’s place and with the original characters largely works.  There are certainly many memorable moments here, but there were also a few inherent problems.  First off, Lucy annoyed me in the first half of the film although stopped being as ‘excitable’ in the latter stages.  The villain – once revealed – is pretty much just a stereotype.  Not only that, but (minor spoiler) he really doesn’t do anything.  In fact, he doesn’t really go anywhere at all.  A movie is sometimes only as good as it villain – and while the first film had two (Gru and Vector) who both really worked, this one is missing something in that department.  And one more thing… Evil Minions should not exist, especially when the idea of them doesn’t really even advance the plot.

The animation again is well done, as is the music and other technicals.  The 3D is fine throughout, but be sure to stay through the end credits – the Minion’s use of 3D here is worth the surcharge alone as it was in the first film – both times they present some of the best 3D I’ve seen.

I did love the final scene, the opening scenes, and a fair bit in the middle of the film, but Despicable Me 2 just couldn’t reach the first film and perhaps it was because at times it was lacking some of the quieter moments and unique charm that Despicable Me managed to have.  Families are sure to enjoy this one though and if you liked the first film, this one is still worth checking out.  But, if there is a third instalment, here’s hoping that (like many trilogies before it) it will surpass number two.

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Despicable Me 2 Review by Nicole

**1/2 (out of 4)

The not so despicable Gru (Steve Carell) and his family are back in this funny sequel.  He continues to be a great dad to Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher).  Things are going smoothly, until Gru gets recruited (kidnapped really) by the lipstick Taser wielding Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) from the Anti-Villain League.

As a former “villain,” Gru seems to be the best candidate to find and stop a mysterious villain who has created a purple serum that turns anyone into a purple monster.  But Gru’s main concern is still his children.  How will he have enough time for them?  Despicable Me 2 is nowhere near as good as the first movie.  The villains are nothing but racist stereotypes.  And a subplot with Minions turned evil is just creepy and annoying.

But despite these flaws, Despicable Me 2 is quite good.  Agnes’ wish for a mom is touching, as is Gru’s love interest.  The family interactions are sweet, making this movie worth it.  And the Minions, when they are their happy yellow selves, are lovable and incredibly cute.  Their Minion renditions of The Village People’s “YMCA” and All-4-One’s “I Swear” are just priceless.  They provide more Minion mischief, from a 21 Fart Gun Salute, to a credits scene with amazing use of 3D.

While not perfect, Despicable Me 2 is a fun movie with good family values.  This is a good choice to see with the family.

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Despicable Me 2 Review by Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

In Despicable Me 2, former villain Gru (Steve Carell) continues to be a devoted single father to the three orphan girls, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher), who he adopted in the delightfully charming original movie of 2010.

We first see Gru and his family again, with Gru going all out for Agnes’ birthday party.  It’s not every dad who will don a fairy princess costume to make sure everything is perfect for his little girl.  The Minions are still very much part of the happy family.  All seems well with Gru’s world, until Agent Lucy Wilde (Kristin Wiig) from the AVL (Anti-Villain League) shows up.  Downed by her lipstick Taser, Gru is taken to AVL headquarters for a meeting with Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan), where they recruit him to help them find the mysterious villain who used a large magnet to steal an Arctic research centre.

Reluctantly, Gru agrees, and with the help of his new partner Lucy, he’s back in the spy game with cool gadgets on secret mission business.  Meanwhile at home, older daughter Margo likes a boy, Edith thinks that’s icky and little Agnes wants Gru to find a girlfriend so maybe she can finally have a Mom.  Also, Gru’s home jam and jelly making business isn’t doing well.  The jam tastes terrible and his chemist, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) is bored and quits to get back in the villain business.

Back in the spy game, while on stakeout at the local mall, Gru and Lucy set their sights on Mexican restaurant owner Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt), who just might be the villain they’re looking for.  There’s lots of slapstick action happening as Gru and Lucy try and sort it all out.  Even the poor Minions get mixed up in the whole villainous plot.  Minions are only adorable when they are yellow.

Despicable Me 2 works best when the focus is on Gru and his family.  There is so much heart in the way this unorthodox family cares for one another.  As in the original movie, comic genius is found anytime the yellow Minions are on screen.  These guys are scene stealers.  There are two song and dance numbers at the end of the movie that are unbelievably funny.  Minions just rock.  The other highlight comes during the closing credits, with some amazing 3D effects that make the 3D surcharge worth it.

While not as strong a movie as the original, Despicable Me 2 is very entertaining, especially for Minion fans, and is suitable for anyone 4 years old and up.  This is definitely a fun family movie and a great way to kick off summer vacation.

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Despicable Me 2 Review by Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

Despicable Me 2 is the sequel to the 2010 animated feature from France’s Illumination Entertainment. Gru (Steve Carell) is back with his minions and three girls, adolescent Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), tomboy Edith (Dana Gaier) and little Agnes (Elsie Kate Fisher). Going into legitimate business making jams and jellies is not going well, and Gru’s inventor Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) leaves for a better offer. Gru is recruited as an ex-villain by Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan) of the Anti-Villain League to work undercover with agent Lucy (Kristen Wiig) to save the world from a villain hiding a serum of mass destruction in a local mall. Gru suspects the Mexican restaurant owner Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt) whom he recognizes as the presumed dead Lucho-masked villain El Macho.

Once I got used to its distinctive style, I found the original Despicable Me to be a delightfully original film. With a lot of the setup no longer fresh, the sequel is uneven by comparison. Gru and the minions are as much fun as ever, and the development of Gru’s relationship with the girls is one of the best parts of the story. Other good scenes include a blind date (Kristen Schaal) and wherever the music of Pharrell Williams is prominent. Unfortunately, the espionage storyline of minions turned by the serum is weak by comparison. The character Lucy is attractive enough but just as annoying at times, and Eduardo is simply a really bad Latino stereotype.

In summary, I found Despicable Me 2 a bit disappointing, but not bad as sequels go. Aside from the script, production and cast are all fine, and the 3D is a nice bonus, especially as in the first film during the closing credits.

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Consensus: Although Despicable Me 2 doesn’t feel as fresh as the wonderful first film, this sequel offers a sweet family message, along with hilarious comic moments and a couple of priceless scenes involving the adorable yellow Minions.  **1/2 (Out of 4)

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