Thursday, 18 February 2016

Despicable Me 2

During my last review we saw a story about a supervillain learning the importance of love via the rather daft plot mechanic of adopting three orphan girls.
And the world was forever changed when it was introduced to the Minions.
I promise you that the movie is still about Gru.
Anyway, now that Gru has a family the writers thought it was time for him to get a love life. Even if those two things normally happen the other way around.
So, let's have a watch of Despicable Me 2 and see if it's as good as the first one.
Just like the first movie this one opens at the scene of a supervillain crime, but instead of being somewhere hot it's somewhere cold.
Annoyingly it doesn't specify exactly where, so I've got no jokes to make.
As a twist, instead of opening on the discovery of a crime like the last movie, this one opens with the crime being committed. The crime in question being the theft of the research station.
Yep, you read that right. It's not a theft from the research station, but the theft of the station. The entire thing. With a huge magnet.
Because physics and stuff.
As the giant magnet plane thing flies away we zoom out to reveal that it is in fact a recording of the incident being watched by a guy with a British accent. 
This guy.
He complains about how long it's been without a lead and so he turns to an agent and orders her to "Bring him in."
And who else could he be referring to other than our protagonist, Gru?
As seen here, in as good a mood as ever.
Of course, Gru's actually being a good adoptive father for the girls from the last movie, the smallest of which is having her birthday party.
The most successful super villain of all time.
We cut to the back garden as happy music plays and each of the girls are reintroduced in turn. First is Agnes, who's enjoying her birthday party.
As seen here.
They then show Edith, the tomboyish one, but since she doesn't do anything during the movie I'm not going to bother getting a screenshot.
Seriously, she might as well not be here.
And of course there's Margo, the only one who impacts the movie at all.
I have no joke to make, I just think she looks adorable in armour.
Of course, they all immediately get upstaged by the Minions, who enter the garden, engage in some slapstick humour and then get scolded by Gru.
Best thing about doing this review blog? Noticing all of the background gags.
Although it's not really a background gag at this point.
Gru has a minor problem on his hands, in that the woman who was meant to be a fairy princess party guest has cancelled on him.
But since he can't disappoint Agnes, he comes up with a solution.
This was also my expression watching this scene.
I've probably mentioned it before, but I'm really not a fan of cringe comedy. I don't like seeing people in cringeworthy situations and this definitely counts.
As such, I've never been able to sit through what happens next without muting it.
And every child there suffered chronic nightmares for months afterwards.
In the interests of preserving my remaining sanity I'm just going to skip this scene. It doesn't serve the plot anyway.
After this abomination comes to a close the background woman sidles up to Gru and tries to hook him up with her recently single friend Natalie.
Oh look at that, she came dressed as the cake.
This may explain why the background guy had such a panicked look on his face.
Gru very calmly and politely turns her down.
He makes his point in a subtle but clear manner.
Outside in the front garden Gru is letting Kyle (The dog-thing) do his business when he is approached by Agent Lucy Wild, who we saw earlier.
Hmmm, she met Gru 5 seconds after the movie brought up the idea of Gru getting a romantic partner.
I wonder what role she'll be having in the movie.
This lady embodies every romantic partner cliche in the book. She's redheaded, hot blooded, clumsy and Gru instantly takes a disliking to her.
They might as well have little cupids flying around because it's that obvious.
The 'fire and ice personalities' joke is also obvious.
Lucy tasers Gru and stuffs him in the back of her car. Normally I would point out that doing something like this in broad daylight should attract attention, but some Minions actually do spot it and try to save Gru.
In typical Minion fashion.
Lucy spots their antics and decides to simply kidnap them too, bundling them into her car before driving into the ocean. Of course, since she's a spy her car transforms into a submarine and they enter her base. Which is a regular submarine.
The reveal shot is still impressive though.
Once she's inside Lucy throws Gru out of the car in front of her boss. He explains what his organisation is (Basically a SHIELD expy, but more British) and that he wants Gru's help to catch someone.
Also, his name's Ramsbottom.
Because casual racism is hilarious.
They explain what it was that was stolen, an experimental super soldier formula, because that's pretty much the only evil plot in supervillain movies these days.
Pictured: SCIENCE!
Gru is naturally standoffish and Ramsbottom allows him to leave, though not before the writer's get a cheap fat person joke.
Someone got paid for that joke.
Before he leaves Lucy hands Gru her card in case he changes his mind. Once he gets home he tucks the girls into bed, fending off questions about whether he'll cave in to the crazy neighbour trying to set him up on a date. This of course leads to a flashback from when Gru was a child and got turned down by a girl he liked, because super villains need Freudian excuses for literally everything.
I fully expect the next movie to involve a Freudian excuse for why he wears a certain shade of grey over others.
Because in movieland, every childhood moment has to have lasting consequences.
As he kisses the girls goodnight he notices Margo obsessively texting someone, whom she explains is her friend Avery. Which of course gets Gru into ultra-protective father mode.
Which would be funny it if hadn't been done to death.
Anyway, Gru descends into the labs and meets with Dr Nefario, who's been working diligently on Gru's new, legal, business venture.
A delicious line of jams and jellies.
Clearly Nefario has found his calling.
Nefario tells Gru that he's not happy and is effectively handing in his notice.
It was a very moving farewell, until the fart joke.
After Nefario leaves the scene shifts to someone knocking on Gru's door, only to kidnap the Minion who answered.
It was no great loss.
In the morning the girls are creating an internet dating profile for Gru but none of his pictures are very flattering, so they decide to use a celebrity instead. The names Bruce Willis, Humpty Dumpty and Gollum get bandyed around, but I personally think Dara O'Briain would work best.
And no, I'm not the first to notice.
Gru finds out what they're doing and is dead set against it, which of course makes it inevitable that he'll get a bajillion matches.
After removing their laptop he surprises them with the news that he's decided to join the SHIELD knockoff and become a spy, making his original lie from the first movie into a truth.
Gru, the master of disguise, is not in this picture.
So Gru (And some Minions) don their disguises and assemble at the store that will be serving as their cover. And what movie could possibly miss the chance to make a witty pun with the name?
The writers were so proud of it they even had the characters stop to comment on it, just to make sure you wouldn't miss it.
Inside Gru sets up shop by putting the Minions to work (With a cupcake recipe he got off the internet) and looks around the place. He of course finds that the clumsy redhead whom he couldn't stand has been assigned as his partner.
Such a graceful lady.
They banter a bit before Lucy beats up one of the Minions and Gru officially introduces them.
He likes her.
Dave the Minion starts fantasising about having a relationship with Lucy, which gets really creepy really fast.
Luckily it's a very short sequence which never gets brought up again, so we can skip it.
Lucy gives Gru the low-down on their neighbours, aka suspects.
Gru discounts most of them until they get interrupted by the owner of the nearby taco restaurant. The walking insult to Mexican culture takes a liking to Lucy and places an order for some cupcakes.
Why do I call him a walking insult to Mexico? Because he's quite possibly the laziest written supervillain cliche of all time.
Gee, I wonder where he's from?
As he leaves he says something that reminds Gru of a legendary supervillain named El Macho.
Which literally translates as 'The Man'.
The joke is that he was very manly.
And he was a masked luchadore because, as I mentioned, the writers were being lazy that day.
The fact that he wears his hair the exact same way, combs his mustache the exact same way, has the exact same chest hair and wears the exact same freaking necklace weren't enough clues to his identity, he had to say something specific for Gru to put two and two together.
Lucy rebuts that it couldn't be El Macho, because El Macho died. From being fired into a volcano. By lots of rockets. Wearing a vest made of dynamite. Whilst riding a shark.
And this is the exact moment when jumping the shark jokes jumped the shark.
Because that doesn't look like it was faked at all.
They decide to break into El Macho's restaurant to search for the serum, so Gru rushes through putting the girls to bed. But of course Agnes needs his help going over her lines for the Mother's day show.
Seriously? The writer's plan to kep the kids relevant was to have a Mother's day show go on whilst Gru gets to know his new female (And attractive) partner?
They even have Agnes look all upset over the fact that she doesn't have a mother so she can't act properly.
Even Gru can't believe how lazy this scene was.
Gru pops down to the lab where he finds the Minions partying, with ice cream replacing alcohol because this movie's rated for children.
He hastily recruits two Minions to look after the girls and two more to come with him on the mission. The scene is notable because of two of the names he uses.
Kevin and Stuart. 
The protagonists from the Minions movie.
Which utterly ruins the climax of the Minions movie, where it looks like they killed off Kevin.
And yes, I did check, their designs are identical.
Kevin and the other one hang around in Gru's house having fun, only to be kidnapped by whomever took the earlier Minion.
But first, a quick cat scare cliche.
Gru and Lucy are sneaking into El Macho's restaurant but get held up by El Macho's vicious guard chicken.
Why do so many shows and movies aimed at children involve grown men choking chickens?
Gru gets beat up, mostly by the chicken but also partly by Lucy trying to help, before Lucy uses some kind of goop to stop the chicken.
There's some kind of joke about blue balls and chickens here, I just know it.
Once past the chicken they search El Macho's kitchen using high-tech gadgetry, but only manage to find his secret salsa sauce.
El Macho returns and is immediately suspicious when he finds his front door has been kicked in. Gru and Lucy manage to escape in the nick of time, with some help from Stuart and Dave.
'Help' is a strong word.
The next morning some more Minions get kidnapped, this time by a fake ice cream truck.
Because this movie has already given children nightmares, might as well give parents nightmares too.
Especially when you consider how childlike the latest movie made them out to be.
Meanwhile, Gru and Lucy are investigating another suspect, the mall's wig-maker, Floyd Eagle-San.
Tom Clancey eat your heart out.
Gru falls down the escalator in a 'comedic' fashion and bumps into the girls, giving them their first meeting with Lucy.
I think this means the girls like her, but I'm not sure.
Agnes, being the youngest and therefore not needing tact, asks Lucy if she's single.
Dang, I've got to train my nephew to start saying that.
Gru gives Margo some money in order to keep them distracted.
Which of course gives Lucy a chance to see how Gru acts around the children, because apparently no woman can resist a man who's good with kids.
I'm just going to take a quick note of that.
Anywhoo, they gloss over the whole thing and get back to work, with Gru investigating the wig shop.
But first, Margo meets a boy.
An Emo boy, but still a boy. Technically.
Of course, romantic music plays as they literally bump into each other and hit it off.
And just in case you couldn't guess, Antonio is the son of El Macho.
Because lazy storytelling.
Gee, I wonder what Gru's reaction will be?
For some reason Antonio speaks with a Mexican accent, despite presumably having been raised in America his entire life (El Macho vanished 20 years ago and Antonio's 15 at most).
Back to the plot that matters, Gru enters the wig shop with a belt buckle that can sense the serum and he sneakily inspects the place.
The belt picks up a reading from behind the wall, but before Gru can investigate the girls enter and tell him about Margo's new boyfriend.
Gru reacts in the least cliche manner possible of course.
Did I say least? Most. I meant most.
Antonio has taken Margo to Salsa & Salsa (El Macho's restaurant) where he's talking about himself and his dream to play videogames for a living.
The joke is supposed to be that it's a stupid dream, but I'm guessing the writer's have never heard of Let's Plays.
El Macho himself comes out and spots Gru, giving him a massive bear hug.
Antonio lets drop that he's his son, so of course Gru renews his insistence that the restaurant owner is responsible for the serum theft.
If this movie was less lazy, Gru would be proven wrong and he would learn a valuable lesson about letting daughters grow up and start dating.
But since this is the halfway mark, that's obviously not going to happen.
See? Almost exactly halfway.
Gru gets invited to the big party, since El Macho wants their kids to get to know each other properly if they're going to be dating.
So, as any father would do, Gru tries to get the family of his daughter's boyfriend arrested.
Ramsbottom has the same expression I had when I watched this scene.
After the briefing the scene shifts to a beach where we get to find out where all of the Minions have been taken.
I may have just spoiled the surprise, but it's a beach.
And the Minions don't question it. Because they're idiots.
Of course, they've not been taken so that they can test out a new 5-star resort. Something very sinister is happening.
And it could be absolutely anybody behind it.
Gru's at home researching El Macho when the doorbell goes. His crazy neighbour Gillian has brought her friend Shannon with her, because some people genuinely think that forcing people on dates they don't want will make them happy.
And also, Gillian's a terrible matchmaker.
Apparently she thinks Gru's interested in blow-up dolls.
Gru tries to pretend he's not there, but Agnes is a terrible liar and gives the game away, so Gru is forced to answer the door and go on the date.
Wearing the wig.
For some reason.
And it looks so natural.
Shannon of course is going on about how nice it is to meet somehow who's not fake and all about their image.
Shannon of course comes across as crass and self involved, because anyone who dresses like that is clearly a terrible human being.
The date goes bad once Gru's hair starts slipping, but fortunately Lucy happens to be there (What a crazy coincidence) and she rescues him.
Ass shot!
Gru explains everything to Lucy and she helps him dispose of the unconscious lady.
Which is good because normally in movies like this they would have an awkward misunderstanding, so it's refreshing for them to not hit that cliche as well.
These two are professional spies.
They do show Shannon getting dropped off at her house, but personally I think it would have been funnier if they'd just said that they were disposing of the body and then never showed her again.
But anyway, Lucy and Gru bond over shooting someone with a moose tranquiliser, Lucy even giving Gru a peck on the cheek.
And once again Gru reacts to a situation in the exact same manner as me.
Gru enjoys his morning with a big massive grin on his face, going through his usual routine to the tune of 'Happy' by Pharell Williams.
So yeah, Minions weren't the most annoying thing to come out of this franchise.
(I'm kidding, I actually love that song).
It's actually kinda charming seeing Gru so happy. He dances with random people, helps ducks cross the road and does some tai-chi in the park.
It doesn't last of course, since Ramsbottom shows up to spoil the fun. They're arrested Floyd, terminated their agreement with Gru and have reassigned Lucy to somewhere ridiculously remote.
Who was it who said "It's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all."?
Because that person's a frigging idiot.
Lucy taps Gru on the shoulder and they have a pretty touching farewell, wherein Lucy gives Gru her lipstick taser as a memento.
So Gru walks home, doing the exact opposite of everything he did on the way in.
Oh, and it starts raining too, in case you couldn't tell that Gru's having a bad day.
Agnes comes out and talks to Gru, asking if there's anything she could do. When told that there isn't, she asks if there's anything Gru could do.
Because it hadn't occurred to Gru to actually do anything.
So Gru gets on the phone and makes a stuttering attempt to ask Lucy out on a date which we all know is actually a practice run because we all know that this movie couldn't do without that cliche.
Gru and I tend to react to situations in very similar ways.
Cut back to the beach with the Minions and we finally get to find out why they've all been kidnapped.
It's to test the serum. The bad guy wants an army of super powered, extra evil Minions and this is no surprise to anybody because the adverts had been showing the darn things everywhere since day one.
Oddly enough they manage to be less of a danger to their master in this state than they did before.
Back with Gru and he's taking the girls to the party at El Macho's house, where we're treated to more boyfriend vs father based humour.
And I use the word 'treated' quite wrongly.
As well as the word 'humour'.
The word 'smug' however, seems quite apt.
Gru mopes around for a while until El Macho dispenses some words of support, phrased in a way that makes Gru suspicious. Gru follows El Macho into his secret underground lair and discovers the terrible fact that he is actually El Macho.
Yeah, I may have spoiled it, but to be fair, the movie really didn't hide it very well.
Meanwhile, Lucy is plagued by visions of Gru until she decides that she loves him and decides to go back to him.
This revelation happens mid-flight, which is a minor inconvenience.
But only a minor one.
Back with Gru, who's not surprised in the slightest that El Macho is alive, but is surprised that Nefario is working for him.
It's not a surprise to the viewers of course, since why would they bother having him leave if he wasn't going to come back?
Gru's also rather annoyed that El macho kidnapped his Minions, especially when he sees what they've done to Kevin.
What did surprise me though was the fact that Gru still recognised Kevin.
El Macho tells Gru his plans, but only because he wants to recruit Gru to his cause.
Gru does what anyone should do in this situation and backs away slowly.
Once upstairs he gathers the girls, but Margo's moping because Antonio was a jerk who started dancing with other girls, because if you don't like someone then it's probably justified.
Also, there's no way he survived that.
Just as Gru leaves Lucy shows up searching for him, only to get captured by the bad guy.
Yay for feminism.
The female lead got outwitted by a chicken.
Was this movie written by Donald Trump? The illegal Mexican immigrant's the bad guy who plans to destroy America and the woman's useless at her job.
Once Gru gets home he's contacted by Nefario, who warns him that Lucy's been captured and that El Macho is coming after Gru.
So Gru does the only thing he can think of.
He gets on his motorbike and abandons the children.
"Get your motor running,
Head out on the highway!"
E Macho has prepared his fortress ready for Gru's assault. The music swells as we pan over his evil Minions loading themselves onto rockets with the names of major cities written on them.
But first, Kevin-vision.
I find it hard to believe that any of Gru's neighbours would park their freshly-cleaned car so close to his house.
Kevin attacks Margo and Agnes, proving that Gru really shouldn't be a parent. Seriously, he left no defences for the girls. He didn't even so much as get a babysitter. He could have at least told them to hide in the lab.
Luckily, Nefario arrives just in time to save the day, since he has an antidote for Kevin.
He arrived literally from off-screen.
Nefario loads the antidote into the stores of jam, which he distributes among the remaining Minions in supersoakers.
Back to Gru, who's working on his plan to attack El Macho.
And it is, without a doubt, the worst plan ever. Of all time.
Despite how stupid the 'False prisoner' plan is, the guards are even stupider, being Minions, so it works without a hitch.
Until one of the Minions messes it up of course.
See Dave, this is why Stuart got to be in the prequel and not you.
Gru grabs Dave and they run, barely able to fend off the evil Minions until they get cornered on the roof.
And that's when Nefarios arrives to be a big damn hero. Again.
Ain't he just.
They splatter the evil Minions with the antidote jelly and pick Gru up from the roof. Gru at first thanks Nefario, but then gets angry at him for having brought the girls along.
Considering Gru left them home alone when he knew a dangerous psychopath was after him, he really doesn't have the moral high ground here.
At least Nefario thought to give them some guns.
Gru fights his way to El Macho in an admittedly kick-ass, if short, action scene. Once he gets to him though, El Macho reveals where he's trapped Lucy.
I know I should be concerned for Lucy, but I'm more concerned for that poor shark.
El Macho threatens to press the button sending Lucy to her death, but one of the Minions knocks it out of his hand. So he just does the next best thing. He drinks some of the serum.
I'm just wondering why the hair on his head didn't turn purple. Or poofy.
El Macho attacks Gru, who defends himself with his freeze ray to no avail. However, he finds the lipstick taser in his pocket and shoots El Macho with it. And apparently tasers were the one thing the serum's designers hadn't thought of, since it works.
And people getting tasered is apparently funny.
Nefario finishes off El Macho with the fart gun and Gru rushes to save Lucy. But of course the chicken hits the button, launching them high into the air.
Meaning that our big romantic climax occurs on the back of a shark, strapped to rockets, covered with TNT and on their way to a volcano.
Which would be so incredibly awesome if the joke hadn't already been used earlier.
Well done writers, you somehow managed to make this uninteresting.
Just as it looks like they're not going to make it, Gru finally plucks up the courage to actually ask Lucy out and she says yes, so he grabs her and jumps from the rocket into the water.
They survive the fall, naturally, and kiss as the volcano explodes behind them.
Or they would have kissed, but they had to write in one more Minions joke.
Cut to '147 days later' where Gru and Lucy are getting married.
The girls are really happy about this, which is only natural given the 15 seconds of screentime they shared.
Ok, I get that that's what the '147 days later' thing was about, but did they really not have enough time in the movie to show they girls getting to know Lucy at all?
They had enough time for a Minions as Westlife joke, but not enough for the girls to say more than three words each to their new mother?
This movie was just plain lazy.
Which is really annoying, because I actually enjoyed the first one. A lot of people did. It was imaginative. It took the Tropes it had available and it played with them like Play-Doh.
But this movie was just a by-the-numbers sequel. The clearest examples were the lazy villain (Cliche), lazy romance (They don't like each other but they have to work together) and lazy jokes (Shark-jumping that turned into an overly long gag. About shark jumping).
Fortunately for me, I only paid £1 for it.

Next week (Hopefully) I'll be reviewing one of the all time greatest Christmas movies.
In February.
Yippee-Ki-Yay Mother$%^er!

No comments:

Post a Comment