Nowadays I don't watch many new kids' films unless they get really high reviews or pique my interest. I really enjoyed the first "Despicable Me" and thought the trailer looked interesting, and so I went out and saw it with a friend last week.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
"Despicable Me 2" takes place after the events of the first movie. Gru has given up a life of villainry and has settled down to being a full-time dad. He is not appreciative of his nosy neighbor's and his girls' attempts to find him a wife, as his girls want a mom. Gru is suddenly recruited by the Anti-Villain League to track down the theft of a dangerous potion, and he and ditzy spy Lucy go undercover at a local mall and look for suspects. Meanwhile, several of Gru's minions go missing, and he must also deal with Margo's budding teenage romance with the son of a mall restaurant owner.
The story was a relatively simple one, but the writing was rather poor. For most of the movie, Gru is constantly suspicious that restaurant owner Eduardo is really a former villain who is believed to have been dead for over twenty years, despite the refusals of the Anti-Villain League to believe him. Then, after dropping several obvious and large hints, it is revealed that Eduardo is the villain; to me, it could have been a better build-up to that revelation instead of practically revealing that it is him the entire time. I was not overly fond of the romantic subplot either. There was little chemistry between Lucy and Gru, and it didn't help that she didn't soften him up or otherwise change him; that was one of the reasons why the original was so cute: because you have this gruff villain who softens up when he unexpectedly becomes a father. Another thing that was missing was all the villainous behaviors, mostly because Gru has given up his days as a villain, and it left the film feeling wanting without his scheming or planning and also largely with the loss of Dr. Nefario, who leaves Gru for another job because he doesn't want to make jams.
The characters were all right, but they suffered because of the poor writing. Eduardo/El Macho was not a memorable villain. Dr. Nefario also underwent a massive character change during the story, which came across as being very contrived; he first started off as aiding El Macho by experimenting on the minions to create evil versions of them, and then he suddenly turned against El Macho, saying that Gru and the minions were his family, something odd to say because he was the one who created the evil minions. Gru was not as memorable either because he is no longer a villain. Lucy was ditzy and to me not an overly likable character, except for her borderline obsession/respect for Gru's former work.
One of the things that made the first movie so funny and enjoyable was its spoof on villains. You have villains doing outlandish things like stealing one of the Egyptian pyramids or stealing the moon, having outlandish weapons and security defenses, and just wrecking havoc on people's lives (like Gru wrecking cars or how he got his Starbucks in the morning). There was none of this in the sequel, and the film suffered because of it. The humor also came across as being a little more crude than the previous film's, and it was not as funny. The minions were still humorous, but again they were not as enjoyable as the first film.
In the end, the movie had its moments, but it was not as good as the original "Despicable Me."
I give it two and a half-stars out of five.
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