Monday, July 22, 2013

The Case for Despicabler

When I saw some of the "funny" clips on the Graeme Norton show, I have to admit, I was not convinced by the merits of Despicable Me 2.  The first film was based on the idea of a bad guy with ridiculous inventions going good, whereas the second seemed to be all about a love story.

But then, heading into the film, I realised that I had overlooked the real reason to see Despicable Me 2, and in fact the only reason worth going at all: the Minions, those cute little hostess twinkie shaped assistants of exceptional good humour and incomprehensible (yet somehow understandable) language.

Strange really: considering Steve Carrell and the incredible Kristen Wiig are the main characters in this film, I had kind of thought that Gru (Carrell) and his love interest Lucy (Wiig) would get lots of good lines and amusing repartee.  But no, Carrell seems happy to let Gru's frankly annoying accent generate most of his laughs, and while Lucy is very... perky, it seems that she is meant to be a physical comedy kind of side kick, though that function has already been taken by the minions.

The animation is good, and some of the secret gadgets are hilarious, but El Macho's character (voiced by Benjamin Bratt) seems to be an idea rife with amusing possibilities that are never fully realised.  And then there are Gru's girls, his adopted family and reason for the first film, who are more or less sidelined, the cuteness of the smallest amped up to almost nauseating levels and the older girls get almost nothing to do.

But, as mentioned, I had kind of missed the point by assuming the animated humans were meant to provide most of the entertainment.  No, those cute lovable minions are the real star of the show and the series, their bumbling antics and amusing chatter winning me over in all the ways the main characters and what passes for a plot does not.

And yes - there is really no story in there at all.  Last time, it was all Gru's determination to be evil.  This time... there is something about an Anti Villain League and tracking down a baddie, but it all seems very thin and a series of separate scenes rather than one cohesive story line.  Though perhaps in a kiddie film, more than that is not required.

Verdict: Despicable Me 2 is, in every fibre of its being, a minions movie.  It's just a shame the human characters and voice actors feel they need to attempt to have a storyline and love story in the same movie as well.  3 Minions out of 5.

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