The summer family film movies just keep coming. No sooner had we recovered from the awesome Monsters University when Despicable Me 2 has us running to the theater again. The two movies have similar pedigrees: first sequels to blockbuster movies, similar opening weekends, similar rotten tomatoes ratings. Neither has stolen the others' thunder, but between the two, no one went to see the Lone Ranger.
I loved Despicable Me. I loved Gru and the cute, spunky orphans. Not to mention the minions! The minions threaten to become the Ice Age squirrel of the franchise (in other words, the only memorable thing after the original movie and what keeps you returning to the teather). Here's the thing: I laughed out loud (too loud, according to my teenage daughter) many, many times during the movie, but now I can't remember any specific gags. But whatever they were, they were funny. My husband said that the movie was "light on plot." That may be true, but it was heavy on characters, which are really what made the first one. (Quick: what was the plot of the first one? And Gru adopting the girls was just a subplot.) The best new character, of course, is Lucy, voiced by Kristen Wiig of Bridesmaids fame.
As in the original, the main plot has to do with some bad guy's plot to be the most evil villain of all time. Here, the bad guy is not revealed until the second half, but Gru (now a good guy) is recruited by the good guy spies to go undercover to find him. A lot more could have been done with that part of the plot, and perhaps it is on the cutting room floor. Why? Because the subplot of Gru falling in love with his partner, Lucy, is really funny. (Even if the entire storyboard of "finding Gru a wife and Agnes a new mommy" is exactly like Rugrats in Paris, down to the poem, but I'm trying to forget that.) The movie definitely could have ben 10-15 minutes longer and fleshed out a few more things, such as Margo's first crush, which ends really abruptly. But along the ride of the thin plot, there are hilarious moments, such as the "chip hat" filled with guacamole and video-game ready purple minions.
If there is any qualm about this movie its that it moves to the "Shrek" side of gags meant for adults. While Monsters U is rated G, Despicable Me is rated PG and aimed for the bored parent who needs something to hold her attention. Gru's blind date with the Real Housewife of Somewhere was only really funny if you were not five years old.
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