FILM REVIEW: Despicable Me 2

July 23, 2013 7:31 pm

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If there is any genre that either succeeds or fails with sequels, it is animation. While the majority deliver, usually at an even higher level of visual effects, many lack the emotional warmth with imagination and meaning from their predecessors. In 2010, Illumination Entertainment made their feature animation debut with Despicable Me which instantly became a hit that became recognized for the visual and emotional charm it bestowed. When a film like that delivers on so many levels, a follow-up is impossible to put aside. Now after three years of waiting, we have one and considering the hype surrounding it, Despicable Me 2 is thankfully a successful sequel. It is filled with almost everything that made the predecessor so successful, yet at the same time contains certain elements that made it a different.

Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, Despicable Me 2 is one of the greatest laugh-out-loud family comedies in a long time. While it is full of witty jokes and one-liners, the slapstick humour stands out the most and makes it ridiculously funny. Just by observing it, Despicable Me 2 follows traditional trends of slapstick comedies as it makes even the daftest stunts and scenarios hilarious to watch. In all aspects, the film is wacky but the implication of human drama provides thought-provoking depth like we do not see often. This is why both installments have been hits: because the target audience is everyone as demonstrating in the humour and the drama. It is a film that balances comical laughs that kids will love and is a heart-melting drama with morals which adults will understand.

In many animated sequels, there are certain narrative trends that follow from within the predecessor. In that sense, Despicable Me 2 has the same idea behind it compared to the first film but this time, it aims in a different direction. This time, it mainly focuses on Gru’s relationship with Lucy and whether his family will be complete or not. Admittedly, within the first fifteen minutes, it looked like the predecessor all over again in terms of narrative structure but impressively, it becomes a different story that becomes more dramatic and, quite frankly, more serious. However, despite Despicable Me 2’s overall execution is heartfelt and genuine like its predecessor; it was the rushed climax that slightly ruined the excitement.

despicable me 2Steve Carell returns to the role of Gru, a former super-villain turned family man, and once again proves that he is perfect in the role. The character of Gru is Carell in a nutshell when on-screen. Carell is known for playing funny, idiotic yet heartfelt characters and Gru is exactly that. In this sequel, we observe a different angle to Gru’s exposed sensitive nature from the three orphans now to his love life. Gru provides emotional depth as a father but also as a man with feelings in society. Hence, the character is loved from the audience. Meanwhile, Kristen Wiig takes on the role of Lucy, an Anti-Villain League agent who collaborates with Gru but eventually melts his heart even more and becomes his love interest. On a similar note, the three girls Margo, Edith and Agnes once again melt the audience’s hearts. Finally, the Minions return and they’ve never been funnier as they were in Despicable Me 2. They are so idiotic that they are so loved. Although this sequel focuses on Gru, the film would not have worked without them. If they are going to be as wacky in the forthcoming spin-off next Christmas as they are in the two Despicable Me installments, then we are in for a real treat.

While Despicable Me 2 did have a mountain to climb against its predecessor and didn’t surpass it, this sequel is charming and is an impressive effort. It is a rarely successful follow-up that is not far at all among Toy Story 2, 3 and Shrek 2 as the greatest of its kind. After two fresh installments and that the sequel ended like a Disney fairy tale on a high note, there does not necessarily need to be anymore. Thus, Despicable Me 2 ends on a high note and brings forth tingling anticipation for the forthcoming Minions spin-off, serves as a rival against Pixar’s Monsters University for the best family film of summer 2013 and most of all, has become a strong contender for the Best Animated Feature Oscar.

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