Despicable Me 2 (2013)

(On Cable TV, August 2014) I liked the first Despicable Me without going overboard for it, and much of the same goes for its sequel.  While Despicable Me 2 is far too emotionally shallow to be held aloft alongside some of the finest examples of the animated family film genre, it’s amusing and zippy enough to be worth a watch.  I suspect that beyond the reformed-bad-boy appeal of protagonist Gru, much of the sequel’s charm hinges upon the character of Lucy (judiciously voiced by Kristen Wiig): as a capable yet endearing character, with combat skills matched with clumsiness and over-eagerness –her non-date with Gru makes for an odd but effective bonding scene.  Otherwise, it’s easy to see the overabundance of charm in Despicable Me 2, from the three daughters (as equally adorable as in the first film, if perhaps under-used) to the omnipresent minions that act as comic mascots of the series.  The film is bright, colorful and directed with dynamic pacing (I suspect plenty of freeze-frame details).  It may not amount to much in the thematic department (even Gru’s romantic baggage is dealt with lightly), but the speed and accumulation of jokes is more than enough to keep the film afloat.  Despicable Me 2‘s comic tone seems more controlled than the original, and I was impressed at the film’s success in mastering even the most obvious jokes: There’s a gag about a cat being rejected from abduction that can be seen coming at least two solid seconds in advance –and it still gets a good laugh.  I’m not so fond of the ethnic stereotyping or the somewhat linear plot, but the tone of the film doesn’t invite much scrutiny, and it should best be appreciated as a light-hearted comedy without any deep intentions. 

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