By Emily Reubush
Three years after the original, ‘Despicable Me 2’ is just about everything you’d expect from the sequel to the beloved first installment: more minions, more silly gadgets, more Gru. Little time has passed in their animated world, however, just enough to show how thoroughly Gru has embraced his fatherly role, but not enough to take Miss ‘IT’S SO FLUFFY!’ Agnes out of her wildly innocent and adorable stage. And though Gru has abandoned his life of super-villainy, he has still held on to his thoroughly entertaining mean streak.
Not all is well, however. Gru’s personal mad scientist, Dr. Nefario, has grown tired of attempting to perfect jam recipes and is yearning for the days of evil once more, and so has taken a job elsewhere. To make matters worse, Gru is recruited (via kidnapping) by a legion of do-gooders, a project he only becomes interested in when he finds an old nemesis might be involved. And yes, of course, there’s a possible romance…
As much as I loved the first and looked forward to the second, I found myself annoyingly unsatisfied. And while I may have gotten a good eye-rolling by calling it ‘too formulaic,’ I maintain that kid’s movies need to be entertaining for adults – or at least to the level of the original film. Simply giving us more of what made the first film successful (minions, the adorable/mischievous girls and Gru’s dark humour) along with the all-too-obvious storyline of his heart softening enough for a romance and a possible mom for the once-orphans, just feels like they didn’t try hard enough – especially with the reasonably long time that has elapsed between the two films. It makes this sequel feel less like it is expanding the story (as sequels are generally meant to do), and more like an easy way to rake in a few hundred million dollars.
It’s a film’s job to leave the audience wanting more, but a half-baked sequel is a disservice to loyal fans. Of course, sequels are easy money and therefore easy choices for the industry – a promise of high returns with little risk and less effort than creating something from scratch. Perhaps you’ve noticed that, more and more, studios are taking this easy path. In fact, in 2013 there are a total of 29 mainstream sequels being released. Twenty-nine . And that’s not including reboots or prequels, only sequels . They cover the spectrum from family films like this one, ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ and ‘Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers’ to horror with films such as ‘The Last Exorcism Part II’ and ‘The Haunting in Connecticut: Ghosts of Georgia’ (both titles I find entertainingly ironic), and the never-ending stream of additions to the ‘Fast and Furious’ , ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Texas Chainsaw’ franchises. Of course, there are some vaguely interesting prospects such as ‘Riddick’ (it’s been nine years since the last one) and ‘300: Rise of an Empire’ (um… didn’t everyone die in the first one?), but for the most part these constant additions are more and more an obvious cash grab. Do we really need a fifth ‘Scary Movie’ (for that matter, did we need a second)? Of course not, but as long as tickets keep selling, you can be certain that the numerals will keep on coming.