Friday, July 12, 2013

A Despicable Letdown

"Despicable Me 2" (Rated PG/2013)

I'm not going to make a lot of friends saying this, especially considering the two lovely ladies I live with disagree with me, but I'm going to say it anyway: Despicable Me 2, despite its smashing box office success, is not a fraction as funny, clever, or enjoyable as the first one. Not even close. There I said it.

Don't get me wrong. I laughed at times. But at others, I was stone-faced. Or eyebrow-raised. Or worse, BORED. And that's just not like me. Maybe I went into it with high expectations. Either way, I was let down. Here are my gripes:

Willie Aames was masterful as Buddy, but
Scott Baio was clearly the star.
Now, I love me a good Minion slap fight or song parody as much as the next guy. But this movie was ALL Minions all the time. And too little about Gru and his new love interest. (I'm not giving anything away there. Anyone who's seen a single preview can put two and two together.) Hell, the main poster image of the movie (which I included above) is just a couple of Minions. The Minions are Buddy from Charles in Charge. Great sidekicks. Hilarious in small doses. They can steal a scene with their comedy. But given their own starring role they get annoying after a while. Buddy Lembeck never got a spin-off for a reason. To me, the Minions got annoying really quickly.

Yes, I am talking about character development in an animated film. Clearly I have issues. But as Winston Wolf said in Pulp Fiction, "Just because you are a character, does not mean you have character." He could have been talking about this movie. What made the first movie a classic was Gru. It showcased his personality, his back story, his relationship with his mom, and his relationship with the girls he eventually adopted. As well as their personalities. We got very little of this in the sequel. (Instead, we got more Minions.) In fact, there was only one brief cameo by his mom, who was a great supporting character in the first film. And Dr. Nefario had no funny moments, where in the first he had plenty.

El Macho = El Lame-o
Speaking of thin characters, "El Macho," the main villain, had no personality, other than being a fat Mexican guy who wore a mask and a cape. He's no Vector, who very nearly stole the show in the first movie. ("Oh yeah!")  Even Vector's weapons (squid launcher!)  and his house ("curse you, tiny toilet!") - were cool. And hilarious. El Nacho? About as exciting as stale Tostitos.
Vector: So funny you hated to love him.
Most if not all of the funny stuff was in the previews. Case in point: the whole sequence with Gru getting tased with the lipstick, kidnapped, and the hilarity that ensued, punctuated by a Minion parasailing behind the car. We saw this in a preview at home one night and had to pause the DVR we were laughing so hard. But that was it. Very little was left to the imagination because the best stuff was in the previews. And all of it is front-loaded in the first 15-20 minutes of the movie.

Let me rattle off four quick ones without blinking: Gru dressing like a fairy at Agnes's birthday party. Gru upset that Margot is interested in a boy. An annoying, busy-body mom trying to set Gru up with her not-so-attractive friends. Gru being afraid to date.

Other than everything I just listed, I liked it. Listen, this movie is wildly successful financially, but let's be honest: it's nowhere near as good as the original. Regardless of what I think, your kids will LOVE Despicable Me 2. It's geared more towards them than you and me because of the Minions. And I guess that's why I'm so ranty. And a little pathetic. When your social life consists of looking forward to an animated sequel for a year and a half and you build it up so much it's killing you, you're primed to be disappointed. (Sigh.)

Since I've come this far, I might as well finish what I started: Monsters University is way better, even though it's an updated cartoon version of Revenge of the Nerds. I'll be buying that one when it comes out on DVD, not this one. I wrote about why I like Monsters U HERE.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if this one is just a filler movie between the first and potential third one?


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