A movie’s popularity and success is never enough to justify a sequel. You need a story, flexible and adaptable characters and enough material to keep an audience entertained for at least ninety minutes. The problem with the film industry is that it will always recognise profit ahead of creativity. That is why every year we get more high-profile sequels than we do original content.
Some studios can handle the task, Pixar and the Toy Story franchise are a key example. Unfortunately, some studios don’t know what to do with their characters, or if they do, don’t know how to effectively convey what they have and produce a suitable and decent sequel. Despicable Me is an unfortunate example of this.
The first film has a great story, some very goofy but interesting and entertaining characters but best of all, it introduced the world to the amazing comedic creation that is the Minions. Only some of these ingredients lend themselves to a sequel though and unfortunately, the first film did a great job of wrapping up the story in a very nice, tidy, “happily ever after.”
That’s the major issue with Despicable Me 2, the story falls flat almost immediately. Its got a nice idea, with Gru using his villain experience to help track down another, dastardly villain, but they never take full advantage of this premise. We are told there is a range of suspects, all in a shopping mall, setting up a great mid-point of the movie where Gru will investigate each suspect. Except he doesn’t. He investigates two and dismisses others outright. This section still lasts a good forty minutes of the runtime though!
It also has a major issue with characters and minor storylines. Where family and acceptance was a theme for the first, love is clearly a theme for the second. Love stories are introduced for at least two characters but where one is predictable to the end, the other is poor and doesn’t go anywhere! It involves one of the three girls from the first and seems to be the only story the writers had for these central characters from the first movie.
The three girls have little to do and play surplus to requirements. If they wrote them out as being on holiday, the film wouldn’t suffer. It’s another symptom of the lack of story or any real direction for the movie to take. This isn’t a new issue, the first film fell flat in the middle too but to its credit, it ended with a fantastic action sequence and great, satisfying conclusion. The sequel doesn’t.
It tries. There is a huge sequence to end everything but the peril and danger of the first isn’t there. Everything is too easy and wraps itself up in such a simple way that you can’t help but feel slightly dejected by it all.
One of the main issues with the story actually becomes its main strength though. The writers were clearly told to add Minions. Make the Minions much more important and present at every opportunity. This means we get tons more Minions and they are the funniest thing in the movie by far. The moments they are screen are fantastic and they have some great scenes and amazing jokes. The story is poor but the film is definitely funnier than the first.
The issue with this is that, when the Minions aren’t on-screen, the film begins to dip, becoming very stale and not going anywhere. It’s clearly a Minion movie with added Gru and the very flimsy story reflects that. Whether the Minions could carry their own movie is yet to be seen but its got to be more successful when it comes to putting together a plausible reason to bring these characters back together.
Overall, Despicable Me 2 is the perfect example of a movie that doesn’t need to be made. Its got some very good ideas but they are never given their full potential and there are a lot of missed opportunities. Characters central to the first movie are side-lined and the story never really reaches the momentum it needed. The Minions manage to make this movie much funnier than the first though and I relish the chance for these guys to get their own movie.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)