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Despicable Me 1 & 2

Despicable Me 2A review by Nalini Haynes
DM1

For those who came in late, Despicable Me began with Gru (Steve Carell), a villain, competing for recognition as a super-villain.

Gru employs hundreds of minions, blue overall-clad little yellow people. Generally androgynous in DM1, minions periodically unashamedly don costumes relating to either gender. The minions make this movie sparkle with their comedic, caring and clever roles.

Vector (Jason Segel), a trackie-dack clad villain seemingly referencing Apple (white surrounds, white technology, awesome gadgetry and general villainy), was obnoxious in the extreme even while repeatedly victorious.

Gru sees three orphan girls gain access to Vector’s home to sell cookies; he adopts the girls – Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher) – so they can deliver robots disguised as cookies to Vector. Gru’s ideas of parental care are amusing or worrying but the girls ensnare his heart, training him to be a good dad, while the minions provide the extra care the girls need.

I loved this movie, the comedy, adventure, theme of family, character development, plot: I loved it all.

DM2

Gru and the girls are now established as a family although Agnes in particular wishes for a mother. When a fairy princess entertainer is a no-show for Agnes’s birthday party, Gru does what any loving dad would do and dresses up as a fairy princess. <3

Obnoxious and pushy mums try to set Gru up with blind dates just like in real life.

Gru is kidnapped by a lanky red-haired woman whose aquamarine clothing matches her cute car. Pity the boot is a tad small to fit Gru.

Upon arriving at the woman’s spy headquarters, we learn the woman is Lucy Wagner (Kristen Wiig), possibly a reference to Hart to Hart’s leading man Robert Wagner, her red hair possibly referencing Stephanie Powers from the same TV series. Lucy is an agent for AVL, the Anti-Villain League; cue James Bond references.

AVL tries to recruit Gru to find another villain but Gru refuses.

Stuff happens.

Hilarity ensues.

DM2 continues with strong themes of the importance of family, giving viewers a big hug.

Representations of women and girls are great; Despicable Me 2 passes the Bechdel Test, a simple gender-representation test for movies. Not only are Margo, Edith and Agnes adorable, independent yet dependent, Lucy was kick-ass. Sure, Lucy needs saving but look who helps save her!

The minions definitely have masculine names in DM2: they’re taking on male roles rather than remaining purely androgynous and yet they unashamedly cross-dress when inclination takes them. It might be necessary for the purposes of ratings to define them as male due to top-half nudity. But who cares? LGBT win Smile

There is one fly in the ointment: Eduardo () is a cringe-worthy racial stereotype. At first glance I’m like ‘OMG GREEK STEREOTYPE’ but this is an American, not Australian, movie, so Eduardo is Mexican. It’s unfortunate that the two Mexicans in DM2 are negative racial stereotypes with no balancing positive roles for Mexicans.

Along the way a captivating plot unfolds with tonnes of references to geek out on. I recall references to Star Wars I, IV and VI, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Close Encounters and more. I’m sure I’ll pick up more references when I watch this movie again.

3D within the story was effective but did not overshadow the story; I admit to wanting to dodge missiles once or twice.

One of the adorable features of DM2 were the vignettes shown during the credits, short scenes with the minions capering. I saw DM2 at Imax: these vignettes were particularly successful on the enormous screen. The image appeared ‘cut’ so black segments were above and below the brightly lit scene with the minions (due to STUFF HAPPENING). Then the minions blew party whistles, played with bubbles and the like, which moved into the black area. Incredibly effective 3D, I almost felt like reaching out to pop a bubble that looked like it was within arm’s reach. Whimsical, creative and funny, this display of skilled manipulation of SFX was a joy to behold.

My twenty-year-old son told me he loved DM2 and wouldn’t want to have to choose which was better, DM1 or DM2. My minion and I love both movies too, and can’t wait to watch DM2 again. (We recently re-watched number one now we own it on bluray.) I highly recommend both movies for adults and multi-generational viewing.

Nalini
Nalinihttps://www.darkmatterzine.com
Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.

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