Despicable Me 2 [Blu-Ray]
Director : s Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud
Screenplay : Ken Daurio & Cinco Paul
MPAA Rating : PG
Year of Release : 2013
Stars : Steve Carell (Gru), Kristen Wiig (Lucy), Benjamin Bratt (Eduardo / El Macho), Miranda Cosgrove (Margo), Russell Brand (Dr. Nefario), Ken Jeong (Floyd), Steve Coogan (Silas Ramsbottom), Elsie Kate Fisher (Agnes), Dana Gaier (Edith), Moises Arias (Antonio), Nasim Pedrad (Jillian), Kristen Schaal (Shannon), Pierre Coffin (Kevin the Minion / Bob the Minion / Stuart the Minion / Additional Minions / Evil Minions), Chris Renaud (Additional Minions / Evil Minions / Italian Waiter)
Aside from being easily marketable, the title of Despicable Me 2 doesn’t really make much sense since Gru (Steve Carrell), the titular Blofield-esque supervillain, isn’t really despicable anymore. Actually, he never was all that despicable to begin with since his aspirations to supervillainy were about achieving infamy, rather than actually harming anyone, so the title was always a bit ironic, reflecting more how he saw himself than anything. But, in Despicable Me 2 he isn’t in any way villainous, even in his own mind, having traded in his various world-dominating plans with his army of chattering yellow-pill minions in order to play mother and father to his three adopted daughters—Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Kate Fisher)—who remain as bright-eyed and precocious as ever.
The first film ended with Gru accepting parenthood after having been won over by his adopted girls, and as a result the sequel doesn’t really have anywhere to go except play with that idea for a while and then find something for Gru to do. In the film’s early scenes he tucks the girls into bed, frets over whether the Avery with whom Margo is texting is a boy or a girl, and hosts a lavish fairy-tale-themed birthday party for unicorn-obsessed tyke Agnes, for whom he dresses up as a fairy godmother and is lowered from the roof of his suburban gothic castle, surely the final indignity for a would-be supervillain who once aspired to steal the moon. He loses the services of his long-time mad scientist Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), who just doesn’t get a salacious kick out of Gru’s plans to convert his underground lair into a massive production facility for jams and jellies (the helium-voiced minions, who are as hilarious as ever, don’t seem to mind too much, though).
Gru is brought back into action by the Anti-Villain League (AVL), which is headed by the supercilious Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan), who dispatches his lead agent Lucy (Kristen Wiig) to bring Gru down to their secret submarine hideout. The manner in which Lucy, who is as tall, lanky, and goofy as Gru is short, stubby, and odd, corrals the former villain with her lipstick taser and stuffs him in the trunk of her car (which handily converts into a submarine, natch), is one of the film’s amusing highpoints, partially because it serves as foreplay for what will become a blooming sense of romance between the two. Our one flashback to Gru’s childhood in the sequel explains why he is wary of women and constantly rejects the intrusive attempts by a chatty neighbor to set him up with all of her friends, but Lucy eventually wins him over by being so resolutely her own gloriously offbeat self.
The Anti-Villain League recruits Gru to go undercover to root out a supervillain-in-disguise who is planning to use a secret formula that turns animals into rampaging mutants. The AVL already knows that the mystery villain is disguised as a shop owner in a massive indoor shopping mall, so Gru and Lucy must pretend to run a cupcake store while they investigate the various suspects, a comical scenario that is never really exploited. Gru suspects that the villain is Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt), the portly and very hairy owner of a Mexican restaurant who may or may not have been the infamous El Macho, who supposedly died riding a shark tied with explosives into an active volcano (don’t ask). Thus, Gru gets to play the hero of sorts, although his efforts aren’t always appreciated by the AVL.
Much like Monsters University, the other computer-animated sequel that dominated the multiplex last summer, Despicable Me 2 is a generally enjoyable, but utterly unnecessary sequel that suffers from a lack of surprise or real ingenuity. Everything that is good about it—including those wonderfully nattering minions who have even more screen time and play a bigger role in the narrative—is what was good in the first film, so there isn’t any sense of growth or expansion. Simply put, there’s nothing new. Watching Gru play the good guy without even once being tempted to be a villain again drains the story of any dramatic weight, especially since the emotional resonance of the first film hinged on his transformation from self-absorbed scoundrel to doting (albeit unlikely) father figure. Here, he’s just run through the paces to the point that even his romance with Lucy, which has a genuine sweetness to it, never quite clicks. Despite the return of co-directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud and screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul, Despicable Me 2 feels too much like warmed-up leftovers, reminding us of better times we’ve already had.
|Despicable Me 2 Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital HD|
|Subtitles||English, French, Spanish|
|Distributor||Universal Studios Home Entertainment|
|Release Date||November 26, 2013|
|VIDEO & AUDIO|
|Despicable Me 2 looks fantastic in a 1080p/AVC-encoded direct digital port on Blu-ray. The image is impressively sharp and clear, rendering the finest detail like the material weave in Gru’s scarf and the scraggy purple hair of the evil Minions, with absolutely clarity. Colors are bright and beautifully presented, from the mustard yellow of the Minions to the bright red of El Macho’s costume. It’s hard to imagine an HD presentation looking much better. (The movie is also being released on Blu-ray 3D, but I was not supplied a copy of that version, so I can’t comment on how the 3D looks on home video.) The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1-channel surround soundtrack does its job admirably, presenting the film’s wide sonic range with great precision and depth.|
|Outside of the enjoyably informative audio commentary by directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin, none of the supplements on the Despicable Me 2 Blu-ray hold much worth in providing behind-the-scenes information. The six featurettes—“The Minions,” “Evil Minions,” “A Gru-Some Transformation,” “El Hombre Malo: The Villainy of El Macho,” “Gru’s Girls,” and “Gadgets Galore”—all run between three and six minutes and are of the fluffy promotional variety, with various members of the cast and crew providing lightweight, jokey interviews that are pleasant enough, but largely devoid of interesting information. There is a deleted scene listed, but it is really just a slightly expanded version of the scene in which Gru as a child attempts to approach a girl on the playground. However, the lack of interesting behind-the-scenes supplements is somewhat remedied by the inclusion of three new mini-movies featuring the Minions—Puppy, Panic in the Mailroom, and Training Wheels—as well as a brief making-of featurette about them.|
Copyright ©2013 James Kendrick
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