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January 30, 2023

Despicable Me 2: Movie Review

By Bernie and Sand Pilarski

Sand said:

Last week, I noted that I had never been a movie theater as packed as the one in which we viewed Monsters University.

That was then, this is now. While the coming attractions aired, a theater usher waved his arms for attention and shouted, "Raise your hand if you have an empty seat beside you!" No one in the floor-to-top rows raised a hand. We recognized a neighbor wandering around up and down the steps looking for a seat for her son and herself, and we could not help her. Ultimately she and the boy found seats in the very first row -- the neck-breaker seats. Despicable Me 2 was SOLD OUT.

We'd arrived 35 minutes ahead of show time, and joined a line waiting for access to the theater, with easily over a hundred people ahead of us. (One person in the party gets in line for seats, the others get in line for popcorn.) By the time Bernie scored our popcorn and drink, the line stretched far behind me and around the corner and down the wide hallway of the building. Incredible. I worried about being trampled, but theater employees were very good at managing the line as we entered the theater. We found seats together that were pretty good.

Was it just that the outside temperature was still over 105 after a week of heat wave? Was it because the 4th of July holiday meant that the kids didn't have Vacation Bible School or Scout Camp or Swim Team that morning? Or was it that kids and parents alike wanted to see how Gru and his adopted daughters and the horde of Minions were getting along?

Despicable Me (the original) was not something that I wanted to see on the big screen; the stylization of the animation didn't appeal to me. Even when the family ordered the film on Netflix, I watched with a jaundiced eye, most likely with my laptop open and a Word document visible for editing. By the end of the feature, I was reasonably pleased with what I had seen.

It was Bernie's enthusiasm that got me to the theater for Despicable Me 2 -- left to my own devices, I'd have ended up with The Lone Ranger. Yet in the opening moments, something gave me a hearty whack with a silly stick, and I laughed so hard at some of the jokes that I missed whole lines of dialogue. Obviously I'll have to see it again.

One of the things that really worked was the role of the Minions, the little orangey-yellow fellows who assist super-villain Gru. Perhaps the writers figured out just how funny Minions could be; or maybe I finally understood how funny they were.

With the 'help' of his Minions, Gru accepts an assignment to track down a new super-villain who has stolen an antarctic research station with a giant magnetic vacuum sweeper. Mystery and Minion Mayhem ensue, and from his loving experience of his adopted daughters, Gru finds his heart expanded even more.

Despicable Me 2 is a riot, and I recommend it highly. Monsters University was funny and cute, but Despicable Me 2 just blows it away.

Bernie said:

You've heard me say it dozens of times ... we're living in a new Golden Age of animation, one ushered in by the technology that permits ever-increasing sophistication in the artsy side of the project. However, art alone is not what makes this a "golden age." After many years in the desert, the people that write these movies have finally rediscovered how to create stories that are enjoyable if you are eight or if you are eighty. Yes, they are cartoons, but finally there are various groups that are successfully bringing to the screen stories where everybody has fun. Of course I give a lot of credit for this renaissance to the folks at Pixar, but Despicable Me 2 shows that the field is definitely expanding.

In this movie, Gru, the really bad guy from the first movie who was moved into the light when he fell in love with a trio of kids who needed a home, now is trying to be a responsible and respectable family man and business man. But there is still a little nostalgia for the bad old days, so when he gets recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help find and stop a major bad guy from taking over the world, he can't resist. The League partners him with Lucy, a young and whacky agent, and the two set out to save the world.

There is just a lot of funny stuff in this movie, not the least of which are Gru's minions, the little yellow capsule-shaped, bib-overalls-wearing creatures that unquestioningly do Gru's bidding, but hardly ever do it right. The writers knew they had a gold mine with the minions after the first movie, and they definitely beefed up the minions' role in this movie. Sometimes that kind of approach backfires on movie makers -- you get a product that is supposed to look like what the audience is thought to have liked, but the spontaneity and originality is lost. However, I suspect that these writers actually love the minions. Despicable Me 2 delivers minions that are not just more and bigger, they remain fresh and original as well, and still utterly charming.

This is a really good movie. The art work is good, the humor is truly funny and delivers for adults as well as children, and the story is entertaining. It is worth every dollar you spend on admission.

Article © Bernie and Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2013-07-08
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