Review: Despicable Me 2 (2013)

Despicable Me 2 expands on the first film by upping the silliness, energy and warmth, it is a bona fide family hit.

Despicable Me from 2010 became a monumental box office success and thus a sequel was soon to follow. Hence the usual concerns of cash grabbery. Well Despicable Me 2 avoids the route of preaching to the kids, drowning itself in clichés or attempting to outdo the competition. Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin’s follow-up does its own thing and is all the better for it, enlarging the fun factor of its predecessor. Despicable Me 2 is undeniably unsophisticated in parts but the silliness is infectious for children and your own inner child.

The film is impossible to truly detest and children will adore every minute of it. This sequel is so lathered with sugary energy that the whole thing feels like it has been written with red liquorice. Many times with animated films, the makers are pre-occupied with competing with other films or cashing in on a trend but Despicable Me 2 feels genuinely like it was written for its family audience and to give them a fun day out. Wreck-it Ralph was Disney coming closer to mastering CG animation; Monsters University will be Pixar trying to do justice to their 2001 feature, Despicable Me 2 is essentially just here to have fun. The directors realise what the film is and whom it is for and provide an action-packed adventure, which aims for a blend of films like Monsters vs. Aliens and especially Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.

The plotting is the film’s biggest hurdle and occasionally it falls. Despicable Me 2’s biggest problem is its lack of shocks, the energy never plummets but very often you know precisely where the story is going. The big reveal as to who the baddie is, is easily predictable and many scenes you see coming a mile off. Regardless the 3D action and animation is colourful, bright and will bring a smile to kids faces and adults are able to join in the fun as well. In fact it was a bit surprising how the script occasionally references other films (from The Thing to The Spy Who Loved Me), which feel like a tip of the hat to the adults. Parents will also likely nod along to some of Gru’s parental trials and tribulations.

This story may be familiar (at times way too familiar) but it has heart and a love story that actually works. The 2010 film struck less of a fine balance in that respect, revelling in Gru’s villainy and then turning to saccharine, here the film balances itself out far better. The minions are built up more than last time and at times steal the show and overall the film blends its parts better. Starting and staying put as a 98-minute giddy rush of fun.

The script is smile inducing and when sat with the family legions, where laughter erupts frequently, you know the film is doing something right. Yes there are a few lazy fart gags and some well-known sight jokes and needless to say some jokes don’t work out quite as well but overall this film is dedicated to its brand of manic silliness. It helps that Gru remains a charming central figure, whether he is being bad or good and a well-chosen voice cast keep the script as lively as the visuals.

Despicable Me 2 is hardly a masterpiece but it is a film free of condescending writing and ill will and exists merely to entertain a family audience, young or old. It currently sits at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes but that will plummet when the uppity critics get their punctual hands on it but this entertained all in the room and that is what a family film should do. Where else can you see a heartbroken Russian drowning his sorrows with jalapeño or a collection of creatures resembling Wotsits in dungaree’s doing a rendition of YMCA, in 3D? Got you there, haven’t we?

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