So, back in the day, I took my then-ten-year-old to see Despicable Me. We both had a good time–my only reservations were the couple of fat jokes, and wait, why does Gru have that accent again? But the fat jokes were minor, and Gru was really quite a charming character. The girls, of course, were wonderful, and who doesn’t love the Minions? I am still somewhat shocked that toy stores were not filled with plush Minions, I’d have gotten half a dozen. The next week we rounded up Mr Leckie and the then-thirteen-year-old and took them to the theater to see it. We bought the disc pretty much as soon as it came out on DVD.
Among the things I really liked about Despicable Me was the way the happy ending (oh, spoiler!) didn’t force the characters into a standard family structure. It’s Gru and the girls and the Minions and Grandma is proud and they love each other and it’s all good.
So when Despicable Me 2 came out, going to see it was kind of a no-brainer. The couple of reviews I’d seen said it wasn’t as good as the first movie, but then how many movies are?
Those reviews did not prepare me for what I saw. Honestly. People could watch that and say “Well, it’s not quite as good as the first one, but it’ll do”? Seriously?
Avoiding spoilers makes it hard to be specific about some things–but sweet, merciful Unconquered Sun, the ethnic stereotypes. The return of the fat jokes.
And the misogyny. No, seriously. In a movie with three built-in awesome girls, and with a female lead that was intended to be awesome and cool, pretty much every single other woman was hated on. Sickeningly so, in the case of the woman Gru goes on a date with because his nosy, annoying (female, natch!) neighbor insists on setting him up. I’m not going to describe how that date concluded, but I’ll tell you I sat there in the theater wishing I’d spent my rare movie ticket money elsewhere.
Then of course there’s the whole “but of course Agnes wants a mommy!” thing. For serious, that’s just lazy. I mean, you could take that direction and do something interesting with it*–but no, that wasn’t on the menu. We’re just going to assume that children without Mommies wish they had them and families must have Mommies to be complete. Because…um…look, we gotta turn this thing in before we can go to the bar. People love mommies! It’s just a kids movie, who the hell cares?
The whole thing was just freaking lazy. And a great way to totally ignore the elements that made the first one successful! I wondered briefly if they’d had different writers for 2, but no. Same writers. Kind of baffling. Something (or someone) must have held them to a higher standard for that first movie. Not to mention forced them to edit out the racism and the misogyny.
Anyway. My advice–don’t waste your money on Despicable Me 2. I wish I hadn’t.
*Yes, even in “just” a kids movie. Please don’t make me write that rant, too.