Sunday, July 21, 2013

Despicable Me 2

I did not see the first Despicable Me in the theater. I was talked into seeing it earlier this year, and am glad I was. It was a fun, quirky film with heart. The sequel has the same good qualities. This is a kids movie, but it's one that holds many delights for adults, as well.

I am always pleased and surprised when a writer and director are able to effectively tell a story without dialogue. This is one of the qualities that made Wall-E brilliant, and while this movie uses the technique very differently it does get a lot of mileage out of physical humor, especially in regard to the minions. While the movie certainly has other charms, it's no coincidence that the minions were used heavily in advertising for this film, in theater pre-show spots before all films, and are getting their own film next year. They remind me of R2-D2 from the original Star Wars trilogy, who also managed to be compelling and adorable without intelligible speech. They're also roughly the same shape.

Otherwise, this film is much the same as the first one, and this is not a bad thing. It adds a romance plot, but retains the elements that made the first film fun. The main character is a sympathetic anti-hero. He is less of a villain than in the first movie, of course, but retains the not-quite-a-good-guy edge that makes him appealingly different than most main characters in kids movies. The three girls continue to be adorable. I appreciate that they are quite distinct from each other, and that they're not static. I presume that there will be a Despicable Me 3, and I look forward to seeing where they take each of the characters, particularly Edith, who appears to be picking up interesting and useful skills.

This movie does have elements that (at the least) edged into racism; not just passing references but a central plot point. There is an extent to which cultural jokes are okay in a comedy, but a few moments made me slightly uncomfortable. There is a continuity error related to this plot point, which is surprising for a movie which is so good with attention to detail - a character's tattoo vanishes partway through the movie.

More than anything else, Despicable Me 2 was fun. It was engaging enough to make a theater full of children pay attention the whole time. It was funny, and it was charming. It was ludicrous while remaining sincere. It was just good.

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