Despicable Me 2
Dir. Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud
I honestly expected to like Despicable Me more than I did. It seemed like a film perfect for my interests, I’ve always been more interested in the super villains that grace the pages of comic books than the heroes, by and large they’re the more interesting characters. So an animated film that puts super villains in the main roles should have been perfect for me. Unfortunately I found the film very disappointing and the sequel, sadly, isn’t much different.
Despicable Me is most certainly a kids film, there’s not a lot for adults here, which is fine. The problem though is that it treats kids like idiots.
In an age where companies like Pixar show us time and time again how you can produce animation that appeals to children and adults alike and do so intelligently with a strong influence on story and character, it’s sad to still see companies like Illumination Entertainment taking the low road and going with the dumb humour and loud noises to get laughs.
Good humour should come naturally from a situation but here it seems as if the story was written around the jokes and the jokes just aren’t funny. It feels as if one of the writers has said, “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if we stuck Gru in a dress?” and then desperately tried to find a situation where they could make it happen.
Too many moments of this film are simply sticking one of the minions in a funny outfit and pointing at it “Look, it’s dressed as a maid, isn’t that great?”, “Look they’re dressed like the village people, the YMCA is funny right? Right?”
This is made all the more painful by the fact that there is some genuinely funny stuff in this movie. The overly manly origin story of the villainous El Macho is absolutely brilliant. The three kids are great too and I’d give credit to both films for giving us Agnes, the youngest of the kids, who is one of the most spot on depictions of a child that age that I’ve ever seen in any film, not just animated ones.
There’s a moment in this film where she is practising her lines for a school assembly and goes from being completely charming and natural to stiff and robotic as she recites the lines in perfect monotone. It’s hilarious because it’s relatable, it’s true to life.
These moments hint at what this film could have been. It could have been intelligently written with a mix of the obvious and the subtle, not simply throwing the minions at the screen and letting them yelp for twenty minutes in a vain attempt at humour.
It’s by no means awful. Like I said, there are a few very good moments and there are some touching ones too, the visuals are great and kids will still love it. It just feels lazy, a potentially good film (and series) wasted by going for the lowest common denominator, a trend which seems set to continue with the release of “Minions” next year…