Despicable Me 2 (2013)
★ / ★★★★
There is no reason for this film to have been made.
Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, “Despicable Me 2” has a plot but no story—certainly none that is worth telling. The basic set-up is this: Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) is kidnapped by Lucy (Kristen Wiig), a secret agent for the Anti-Villain League, because a secret lab in the Arctic, containing a dangerous serum, is suddenly whisked away. Since Gru is a former villain, the league hopes that Gru will lend his expertise to sniff out the person responsible. The pool is narrowed down to a group of store owners in a mall.
The picture overloads on cute. It seems as though the writers, Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, thought of scenes that pass as “adorable” and came up with situations—does not matter if they do not fit within the context of the plot—revolving around the “Aww” moment. I did not fall for it. There is no cleverness in the writing. Much of it is forced. The jokes are either infantile of falls completely flat. No amount of bright colors can cover the inner deadness being paraded on the screen.
Perhaps the approach is appealing to children—and there is nothing wrong with that. But I think children deserve better than this fluff. There is no great lesson to be learned here. It could have been about fatherhood and how difficult it can be to be a single parent. Quite frankly, I found it ridiculous and embarrassing that the screenplay settles for the lowest hanging fruit: a so-called romance between Gru and Lucy. Five- or six-year-old kids could care less about that. And why should the older audiences care when the relationship has no depth or meaning?
It is not even imaginative enough to create an interesting villain. The reveal of his or her identity is no surprise at all. It is kept a “secret” for so long that when the third act comes around, no one cares any longer. Further, the motivation is not clear and so the endgame has no form. Certain characters change sides for no good reason. The next thing you know, the script has tried every trick in the book but none of it has worked.
The lack of ambition and ingenuity that went into this sequel is shocking. I understand that the point is to make a lot of money because a lot of people liked the predecessor, but the least the filmmakers could have done was to try to hide it by actually making something that was worth everyone’s time. Supporting this picture is rewarding laziness.