Enter our inner circle. Support The Artifice on Patreon

Despicable Me 2 Review: Romancing the Minions

Despicable Me 2

There could not have been a better place to see Despicable Me 2 than at a sneak preview in the Salle des Haras at the Annecy International Animation Festival. A large part of the movie was made at the French animation studio Illumination MacGuff, so the French fan base was out en force in the small alpine town of Annecy, host to the oldest and most prestigious animation festival in the world. Present to introduce the film were Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud and Illumination’s Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy, who revealed that this would be the first time they had seen the film with an audience.

The creative team behind Despicable Me 2 amidst a flurry of paper airplanes.
The creative team behind Despicable Me 2 amidst a flurry of paper airplanes.

And the audience did not disappoint. Paper airplanes (an Annecy tradition) flew towards the stage as the lights dimmed, wild applause greeted the opening credits, and at the end of the evening a standing ovation honored the directors, producers and crew, many of whom were present.

So with that sort of enthusiasm it is hard to step back and objectively analyze the merits of the movie itself. Unfortunately, the return of Gru and his minions leaves much to be desired as far as the story is concerned and therefore comes across as a sequel meant to capitalize on a pre-established fan-base and merchandise sales.

The story begins soon after the end of the first with the not-so-villainous Gru making arrangements for pink cupcakes and a fairy princess birthday party for Agnes. He is surrounded by an entourage of suburban moms who seem to have nothing better to do than meddle with his love life. Even before our female protagonist is introduced we know the plot is going to center around Gru getting a girlfriend. Sure enough, we meet Lucy, a secret agent for the Anti-Villain League, who tries to recruit the domicile Gru away from his jelly-making business and back into the world of fancy gadgets and cool cars.

Gru and Lucy undercover in the cupcake shop.
Gru and Lucy undercover in the cupcake shop.

Oh, and they need to save the world from an unknown villain has stolen the PX41 serum, which can turn the sweetest cuddly creature into a raging purple monster. Despite this decidedly despicable act, this mysterious villain and the PX41 serum are given so little attention the threat against the world as we know it seems more of a subplot than the driving motivation of the film.

Gru and Lucy’s relationship develops in a predictable manner with some refreshing comic relief involving a mad chicken and a blind date. As most of the movie posters suggest, Gru and his minions are the stars. Agnes, Edith and Margo have not grown in stature or personality since the first movie and have a less prominent role in the action this time around. The writers drop in a few obvious plot devices and relationship cliches to propel the characters towards the climax, which doesn’t hold a candle to Gru’s first villainous feat of stealing the moon.

despicable-me-2-picture03

To make up for the mundane storyline the animation is excellent, conveying character and humor with both force and delicacy. And despite its predictability, it really is a funny film. Thanks to Steve Carell’s excellent voice acting, Gru’s accented sarcasm remains sharp. Lucy, his new partner in anti-crime (voiced by Kristen Wiig), endears us with her goofy innocence. The action-based comedy channels the Looney Tunes style of insanity that sweeps us up with exaggerated sound effects, slapstick hilarity and a healthy dose of cross-dressing. The minions are in rare form, permeating nearly every scene with some sort of non-sequitur humor. The best 3D effects are actually during the end credits, though the use of 3D is well integrated and enjoyable throughout the film.

Despicable Me 2 was one of my favorite screenings during the entire week at Annecy, not because I enjoyed the movie all that much, but because it taught me that the energy of a crowd is an experience in itself. No wonder the minions have so much fun all the time.

In summary, this was a funny film with excellent animation. If you have some little minions of your own, or happen to love Gru and his sidekicks, you will probably enjoy watching Despicable Me 2 in the theater. However, if you want an engaging and memorable story, I suggest you look elsewhere among the summer blockbuster lineup.

Despicable Me 2 opens in theaters on July 3, 2013.

Rating:

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Posted on by
Corrie Francis Parks has shown her award-winning animated films on every continent except Antarctica. She looks forward to the day when she can count penguins among her fans.

Want to write about Animation or other art forms?

Create writer account

9 Comments

  1. It would give it a four out of five. Really thought it was fun! I think everyone could agree though, the minions were the best characters in the movie.

  2. doyle brans
    0

    It’s a poor sequel to the very wonderful (and my favorite) Despicable Me. The minions still keep us laughing but other then that, there really isn’t anything memorable. The story is weak. The humor is mainly aimed at little children, which is not necessarily a bad thing and it ends all too suddenly. Shame shame.

  3. Jordan

    I should be seeing this with my friends next week. I’m not expecting it to be much 😛

  4. I wish I would have been there for the screening. You are one lucky…! Thank you for the review, going to be fun to watch this in the kino.

  5. Taylor Ramsey

    It is pretty obvious that the studio would just make a minions film if they could get away with it. I fully expect a direct to video minions film before too long.

  6. Sophie Bayliss

    The minions are my favourite and I’m still waiting for them to bring out some cuddly toy versions of them! I want to see the film but I think I have to lower my expectations before I end up very disappointed.

    • Corrie Parks

      The minions do sort of steal the show in this one. If they are your favorite, I think you won’t be disappointed!

  7. Jemma Baddock

    This is a great article, thanks for giving us this special insight!

  8. Dr Nefario
    0

    I took my 4 yr old (already a fan) and my 2 yr old to the cinema and I have to say it was the longest i have ever seen them both sit still, especially together. They loved it, great work and can’t wait for a sequel.
    As for the critics, stop being so critical 🙂

Leave a Reply