Despicable Me 2 turns ten years old this year, and in the tradition of animated anniversaries, we’ll be taking a look at it here. The thing with this movie is that I had never seen it before, and having only seen the original once, I had to take a look at this as a sequel but also as its own thing. So, watching the original and then Despicable Me 2 was the course of action, to get the full experience. Was that the best idea? I’m afraid not.
Doing this served two purposes, one a success on Despicable Me 2‘s part, the other, a failure. In one sense, it allowed for a seamless character transition of Gru and family into the next step of their dynamic, adding a maternal figure to the clan. The characters grew from the last film, and we can identify a clear arc of development. The sweet moments between Gru and the children are some of this movie’s best moments. That said, the failure lies in that Despicable Me 2 is, and will never be, Despicable Me, and watching it after the first, only serves to highlight the flaws in its story.
El Macho is an uninteresting villain, forever in the shadow of the predecessor’s Vector. A sequel should be bigger, higher stakes, yet, it didn’t feel like that. I constantly found myself in a state of comparison. The animation was gorgeous, with the strong sense of visual slapstick humour that the whole family can enjoy, with the minions stealing the show as usual. The jokes, for the most part, garner a chuckle, and I have no doubt that it will enthrall children with its various silly moments and overall style.
The main struggle with Despicable Me 2 is in its overall unoriginal feeling. It never feels like anything more than a cash grab on the success of the first, and I don’t blame them, but it feels cold. The goal of the story is to find a wife for Gru and other than that, the rest is meaningless. The pacing is all over the place and the story itself is stretched extremely thinly. Unlike the first film, it feels like it ran out of ideas half way through. The writers had a chance to create some wonderful plot twists at certain points but none of these elements were included, leading to a bland, predictable adventure that felt like a direct to DVD movie, and not the big adventure that it paints itself to be.
I must commend the voice cast who do an excellent job throughout. The vocal inflections of the minions is a source of humour and plot development with Steve Carrell and Russell Brand making great three-dimensional characters for Gru and Dr. Nefario respectively. The animation has such an excellent use of anticipation and exaggeration in each movement and it provides a really nice cartoonist energy to each shot, all staged in such a way that makes the world feel realistic and lived in. The three children are unique yet similar and the dynamic that they have with their adopted father is something that sticks with the franchise throughout.
Speaking finally on this being a bridging movie to Despicable Me 3, in many ways it is. Is it necessary to see the first one in order to understand this? No, not really. The points are so thin that it is easy to jump straight in with Despicable Me 2. In many ways, I wish that I had done so too, rather than make the mistake of approaching this film with the thoughts and emotions that Despicable Me made me have. Should you watch Despicable Me 2 on this tenth anniversary? Maybe, if you want a family adventure that will keep the kids entertained and you smiling. Will it begin to bore you after twenty minutes? Most likely.