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Hollywood’s loyal opposition | by maryann johanson

Despicable Me 2 review: a little bit despicable itself

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Despicable Me 2 red light

In an almost terrifying reversal from the first film, this is crude, racist, and sexist, in entirely well-worn ways. (But the Minions are still funny.)
I’m “biast” (pro): adored the first movie

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Great. Apparently this is to be the summer of Animated Movies That Did Not Require A Sequel But Are Getting One Anyway. First it was Monsters University. Now, mere days later, it’s Despicable Me 2. Little packages of Hollywood’s creative bankruptcy wrapped up in CGI glitter. There is, quite literally, no need to find any new stories to tell or — at a bare minimum — any clever way to tell old stories because mass audiences don’t seem to care. Monsters U made an obscene amount of money last weekend and will play strong throughout the summer. Me 2 will do the same. Because comfortable familiarity is better than challenging freshness. (Just look at Man of Steel. It opened well, because everyone knows and loves Superman. And it took a huge 65 percent drop in North America over its second weekend, and a smaller but still dramatic 56 percent in the U.K., because it’s not a same-old-Supes story, and apparently that earned it bad word-of-mouth.)

What makes Despicable Me 2 so enraging is that the first film did challenge us. Not a lot. Not in any hugely subversive way. But it doesn’t take much to shake up a Hollywood paradigm. Casting a villain as the hero is one way… even if the only way to get away with that is in a cartoon comedy. Filling out a cast of characters with three wild — and wildly individual — little girls bursting with personality is another way. And, of course, the simple fact that the first film was not based on a comic book or a line of toys or another older movie was almost earth-shattering. We had no idea what to expect. Amazing. And it worked. By some fluke, Despicable Me earned more than $250 million in North America (and even more than that internationally).

I thought, at the time: These guys get it. Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud (The Lorax). Screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul (who as a team wrote Hop and Horton Hears a Who!). They get that we need new stories and new perspectives, and they get that it’s possible to offer such scary things and still be entertaining.

But I was wrong. Obviously their cunning creativity was a fluke, too. Because they have reverted to tedious, narrowminded Hollywood form with Me 2. The appealing premise of the first film — Gru’s humorous despicableness — cannot carry over, because the first film was all about the little girls curing Gru of his villainy, which they did entirely too well. I’m sure I unconsciously imagined that the same team behind Me would have found a way around this narrative dilemma, so it makes Me 2 even more of a crushing disappointment that they didn’t.

It’s an almost terrifying reversal we get instead. Where Me ended with a happy, unconventional family, Me 2 is all about finding Gru (the voice of Steve Carell: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Hope Springs) a wife, so that the family can be “normal.” Somehow this “naturally” translates into a “comedic” running motif about how women are too fat, too ugly, too hairy, too obnoxious, too pushy, too anything-but-“ladylike” for Gru. One particularly awful scene apparently demanded, for comedy’s sake, that an unpleasant evening end with Gru drugging his date and hauling her home atop a car as if she were, perhaps, a deer slain on a hunt.

Who else incurs Gru’s wrath? How about the boy Gru’s eldest daughter, Margo (the voice of Miranda Cosgrove: School of Rock), thinks is cute? That’s just completely appropriate Dad behavior, of course: it’s a father’s duty to ensure that no male of the species ever gets close to his daughter.

There’s plenty despicable, all righty. But none of it is the sort of all-encompassing misanthropy that made Gru so hilarious an anti-hero in the first film. The drugged-woman-atop-the-car bit is achieved, in fact, with the help of Lucy (the voice of Kristen Wiig: Friends with Kids, Bridesmaids), an agent for the Anti-Villain League, which has enlisted Gru’s help to hunt down a new supervillain before he can put his very bad master plan into play. Lucy is one of the Good Guys, so as far as the movie is concerned, being treated like a prey animal is appropriate punishment for a woman who is annoying but harmless. (Lucy also uses a taser like a toy, which is supposed to be funny, so I guess cavalier use of a potentially deadly weapon supposedly isn’t despicable, either.)

Me 2 seems not to think there’s anything despicable in its depiction of its possible supervillain suspects, Asian stereotype Floyd (the voice of Ken Jeong: The Hangover Part III, Transformers: Dark of the Moon) or Mexican stereotype Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Love in the Time of Cholera), the latter of whom may even be supervillain El Macho, former nemesis of Gru’s. It’s just all in good fun. Of course it is.

Perhaps worst of all, however, is the story’s “happy” conclusion: that no matter what their own dreams and desires, women are for rescuing and then for marrying. I bet the Gru at the end of Despicable Me would have moved mountains — or blown them up — if anyone suggested that that was all his girls are good for. I’ve heard it suggested that what it takes for a man to become a feminist is that he have daughters. Obviously, however, a story about a man with daughters needn’t automatically be feminist.

All this unpleasantness — Me 2 is crude, racist, sexist, and in entirely well-worn ways — almost completely drains whatever charm may have lingered from the first film. Nothing that made the first film work has been retained. Well, okay: Gru’s blobby yellow worker-bee Minions are still very funny. They could have cut away all the non-Minion stuff here and ended up with a bunch of Minion shorts. And that would have been just fine.

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Region 1
release date:

Dec 10 2013
Amazon US DVD
Amazon US VOD
Amazon Can DVD
Region 2
release date:

Nov 25 2013
Amazon UK DVD
Amazon UK VOD
US/Canada release date: Jul 3 2013 | UK release date: Jun 28 2013

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated D for some unexpectedly despicable content
MPAA: rated PG for rude humor and mild action
BBFC: rated U (contains very mild scary scenes and slapstick violence)

viewed in 3D
viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes
  • KaliforniaUniKorn

    Lighten up honey. It’s a CGI cartoon.

  • englerp

    And that’s why it doesn’t have to be good andor is somehow immune
    from any sort of criticism? Nope, just like “i only followed orders”,
    it’s an excuse that doesn’t fly.

    PS:Coincidentally
    sfdebris gave his opinion on “It’ only for kids” on his “Fear
    her”-Review. He..doesn’t like the trope. (And the episode. But it’s
    “Fear her” so that goes without saying ;) ).

  • http://www.rogue-penguin.com TempestDash

    Arguably, what we allow our children to watch is even more important than what we subject our own cynical minds to. It seems like we have our cultural standards reversed on everything. Violence better than sex. Ignorant better than responsible for children.

    Obviously, I haven’t seen this film, so I have no idea if MAJ’s review is spot on or not, but the sentiment is at least worthy.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    I would have deleted your comment if others hadn’t already replied to it.

    Do you have something constructive to say? If not, please do not post comments here.

    And I’m not your “honey.”

  • RogerBW

    Darn it. And yeah, same directors, same screenwriters… hmm, the “story” credit for Sergio Pablos is gone. Perhaps they needed an unconventional framework to hang their story on, and without that (because sometimes, Hollywood, a story is just over, it’s complete, and it’s time to accept that) they fell back on generic trope-shovelling?

  • http://www.faithpermeatinglife.com Jessica @ FaithPermeatingLife

    I had the opportunity to see an advance screening, and your review is right on. The movie is a bunch of cobbled-together tropes and stereotypes and has no real point. Disappointing!

  • Danielm80

    I’m a children’s librarian. I think that, if anything, children’s movies need to be better than the movies for adults. Maybe the next generation will have higher standards than we do. If a kids’ movie is lousy, it deserves to be torn apart by critics. Then kids will get taken to the good stuff instead.

    But I think that when MaryAnn gets around to making a film discussion Bingo card, there should be a square that says, “It’s a kids’ movie! My kids don’t care about reviews. My kids are idiots.”

  • RogerBW

    But I think that when MaryAnn gets around to making a film discussion Bingo card, there should be a square that says, “It’s a kids’ movie! My kids don’t care about reviews. My kids are idiots.”

    Right next to “it’s just a movie” and “turn off your brain and enjoy it”.

  • innpchan

    UniKorn Troll is obvious.

  • Danielm80

    Well, we know kids are never critical about anything.

  • RogerBW

    Well, we know kids are never critical about anything.

    My friend the well-known children’s author (now deceased, alas) had some splendid rants on this subject.

  • Danielm80

    Which author was that? (Many children’s book authors are known for their splendid rants.)

  • RogerBW

    Diana Wynne Jones.

  • englerp

    For the record: It’s from 3:50

    http://blip.tv/sf-debris-opinionated-reviews/dr-who-fear-her-review-6608203

    Also, i didn’t get a reply from Kaliforniaunikorn? I’m really shocked and appalled.

  • sks

    This movie is obviously just another cash in on the success of the first, as if the $250m made on the first one is not enough for the producers.

    However I really do not agree with the reviewer that the film is sexist, or crude for the that matter. Mary Ann has devoted a large portion of the review detailing “sexist” or racial aspects of the film, but do you really believe that this film would be passed by a certification board as suitable for all if it really was as crude as Mary Ann has stated.

    Mary Ann you have dedicated far too much of this review making a big issue out of nothing. I was not impressed by the film but at no point did I find anything offensive, and my children seemed oblivious to the “crude” content of the film, as did every other person I have spoken to.

    As for the “cavalier” use of a potentially deadly weapon, that really did make me laugh. This is a cartoon. Have you ever watched a Tom and Jerry or a Looney Toons cartoon before. They use dynamite and other such weapons against their nemesis all the time. Speedy Gonzales, well that racial stereotyping if I ever saw it. Should these cartoons be banned?

    I am not trying to troll your review and I am sure that your other reviews are more relevant than this one. You should probably not review animated features if you can not understand that they should not be taken too seriously. My apologies if my post has been sexist, racist or crude in any way :p

  • jake

    Funny. This review nailed exactly why I don’t watch Pixar movies anymore. Female characters are either dead (Up) stupid (Finding Nemo,) aggressive (Wall-E and Finding Nemo) stay-at-home-Moms (Toy Story, and Incredibles, to some extent,) and when they do finally maintain superiroity over men, they are cut short in the end (Ratatouille.)

  • gen3benz

    With a mug like that, I really doubt anyone is your “honey”

  • gen3benz

    Give her a break. Writing crap reviews is the most exciting part of her life.

  • Michael Brown

    Still, in all, I think one of the most important things you can do with kids’ movies is to talk about them after you’ve seen them together. This can be for any kids movie, good, bad or indifferent. My son and his buds got into a heckuva discussion about “3 Ninjas,” they really took it apart. And these guys were the target demographic and they thought it was lousy! Then the Fundamentalist Christian kids needed more explanation about the snarky take on Christianity in Disney’s “Dragonslayer,” wherein the Christian bunch weren’t exactly the shining wonders their parents talked about. Then their parents showed up to take their kids home and joined the discussion, the parents proudly proclaiming the notion that they never let their kids go to Disney flicks because of the inordinate number of evil, dark characters everywhere. I don’t know what they thought of Harry Potter, this discussion occurred before the books or movies. Are we growing Critical Viewers? Gosh, I hope so.

  • Doombound Lord

    Boo hoo.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    You don’t get to do this sort of thing here. If you have a coherent response to the commenter, please post it. If not, there’s no reason to post anything.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    do you really believe that this film would be passed by a certification board as suitable for all if it really was as crude as Mary Ann has stated.

    You don’t really believe this, do you?

    The MPAA (and to a lesser degree the BBFC) are not terribly concerned with sexism. They barely even seem to notice it.

    Also: I am perfectly capable of deciding for myself what I find offensive.

    With regards to the taser: When real-life cops start dynamiting innocent nonviolent citizens, and the general consensus is that dynamiting is generally harmless, we might have to have a discussion about the comedic use of dynamite in cartoons. As things stand now, however, the sort of stuff we see in this film only reinforces a completely wrongheaded notion that tasers aren’t a big deal.

  • lizzylou

    Went to see this with my 4 year old and it wanted to go home half way in and was not the only one it just did not keep him as entertained as the first the jokes just did not work for small kids and the purple minions scared him to death when I did make him stay. All in all rubbish don’t waste your money on this one.

  • amanohyo

    I’ve been disappointed with Pixar movies lately too, but primarily for their reluctance to place female characters at the center of their stories (and female writers/directors behind the scenes), rather than any specific personality traits (certainly not aggressiveness which one could argue is a good quality to possess when adventuring).
    Eve, Ellie, Jessie, Elastigirl and Dory are each more than capable of carrying a narrative on their shoulders if the scriptwriters and producers had the courage to let them. Brave was a small positive step, but somewhat bland and (ironically) timid. After Cars 2 (and Planes apparently) and Monsters U, it seems that Pixar’s primary focus is now on brand-building which is one giant leap in the wrong direction (for brandkind?).
    I will agree with you on Ratatouille – I still have no clue what Colette saw in Linguini. The romance was horribly forced to further the plot, and Colette was shoved to the side in an unconvincing and unfair manner at the end.
    It’s possible to build a great movie around a stupid, aggressive housewife (maybe even a dead one if she’s a ghost or her memories have been uploaded into a machine). The issue isn’t that Pixar creates poor, one-dimensional female characters – the issue is that they lack the will to put those characters at the center of their own stories. Simply saying “Well, Brave didn’t make that much money, we tried…let’s go back to the stuff that we know sells,” doesn’t really count as a concerted effort.
    There is a huge growing market for female-centered adventures (witness Twilight and Hunger Games), and if Pixar doesn’t capitalize on it, some other studio will… eventually.

  • Doombound Lord

    There’s nothing much to say. Dismissing Dory as just ‘stupid’, EVE as ‘aggressive’ and the female characters of The Incredibles and Toy Story as ‘stay-at-home-moms’ is rather absurd.
    Some people just want to see misoginy where there isn’t any so they can complain.

  • SKS

    Mmm, you may be correct in relation to the MPAA and sexism, I really don’t know enough about the MPAA to make that judgement.

    The use of Tasers on non-violent citizens does not really belong on a movie review, and I believe that the depiction of the use of a Taser in this featureis obviously meant for comedic effect and has no bearing on the use of tasers in real life.

    “Also: I am perfectly capable of deciding for myself what I find offensive.” – I never indicated within my post that you were not capable of deciding what is offensive. My point was that I ( and dozen or so friends) do not agree that the movie is offensive. I believe that it is possible to find faults such as you have mentioned in most animated films, if you look hard enough.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post.

  • RogerBW

    After Cars 2 (and Planes apparently) and Monsters U, it seems that Pixar’s primary focus is now on brand-building which is one giant leap in the wrong direction (for brandkind?).

    Well, maybe.

    Ed Catmull, Pixar’s president, recently claimed that he wanted to scale back on the sequel factory and do more original films.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    The use of Tasers on non-violent citizens does not really belong on a movie review

    Why not? What does, in your opinion, belong in a movie review?

    I believe that it is possible to find faults such as you have mentioned in most animated films, if you look hard enough.

    Ah, the old “You were just looking to be offended.” Except I wasn’t. I go to the movies for the same reason everyone else does: to be entertained. And I wasn’t here.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    No, they don’t.

    If you have nothing much to say, perhaps you shouldn’t say it. Or you can please explain what’s “absurd” about the comment you’re replying to, and why you choose “Boo hoo” to connote absurdity.

    See this comment: http://www.flickfilosopher.com/2013/06/despicable-me-2-review-a-little-bit-despicable-itself-premium.html#comment-947121327 as an appropriate way to disagree.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    Except *Brave* made more than half a billion dollars worldwide. More than *Wall-E* made. More than *Cars* made. And *Cars* got a sequel. And is getting another, of sorts, in *Planes.*

    But yes, there is the perception that *Brave* was a failure. Because everyone knows that no one wants to see movies about girls.

  • amanohyo

    Thanks for the link! Inside Out sounds promising in 2015, but I’m afraid Finding Dory might easily be subtitled: Dory in Distress (maybe I’m wrong and the movie will really be about Dory’s awesome adventures – fingers crossed).

  • amanohyo

    Wow, I had no idea that Brave had done so well. I should have taken a couple seconds to look over the numbers. Even in the US alone, it’s only barely behind Cars and Toy Story 2.

    It’s strange that the perception is that it wasn’t a big success. Maybe Merida will pop up in a sequel (Braver, Brave Too, The Brave and the Gingerous?) of her own in three or four years.

  • Grace

    Wow…you were annoyed that the great female adventurer in Up was dead? I’m glad she existed. And are lumping “stay at home moms” in with “dead, stupid and aggressive”? Not that the mom in Toy Story was a stay-at-home mom anyway (hello—single parents rarely are!). Ratatouille’s plot came from the novel by the same title. Would I like to see more female protagonists? Yes, but I don’t feel the need to belittle all female characters in the mean time.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    I can’t speak for Jake, but the issue with Ellie in *Up* is that the story isn’t about her. The problem with Ellie is that she had to be sacrificed for the male protagonist’s spiritual (and in this case physical) journey.

    Far from “belittling” her, I (and I suspect Jake) would like to elevate her to the central character.

  • amanohyo

    Wait, duh… I figured it out. The problem is not that the box office was low – the problem is that the merchandising totals were low. At least, that is how some of the powerful dudes at the top will frame the situation.

    Pixar made a ton of extra cash on Cars and Toy-Story themed toys and games – I suspect they did not make as much on Brave-themed plastic doodads/electronic entertainment (Wall-E would approve) but it’s hard to find accurate numbers.

    I’m positive that this is the reason they are going ahead with the Planes movie – they got addicted to the merchandising bonanza spawned by the first Cars, and some executives somewhere can’t resist milking that plastic, Made in China teat. Also, it’s relatively easy to squeeze out a lazy video game with plane characters. Also, as an air traffic controller, I have to admit, planes are way cooler than cars.

    There better be more than one female plane – and they better talk to each other about something other than dude-planes (The Beechcraft test?).

  • Thomas

    Yeah, let’s look at those again:

    Up!: working woman with better job than her husband.

    Wall-E: Intelligent, loving and very independent.

    Toy Story: Single mom, probably working (since she is a single parent).

    Incredibles: Bad-ass superhero and a lot wiser than her mid-life-crisis hubby.

    Ratatouille: Working woman in a man’s world. The only one with an open mind and the Chef (or possibly Sous-chef) in the ending scene.

    I also noticed you conveniently forgot about Brave, which has a couragious leading lady, who is fighting for control over her own life.

    Now granted, Dori was a bit dumb, but I don’t think that is any more sexist as the many dumb male characters you find in Animated movies.

  • Skimble

    I was disappointed in Despicable 2 for many of the reasons outlined in the review. In fact, I was so troubled by the theme and treatment of women in the film that I’ve been periodically looking to see if anyone would draw attention to it in a review.

    I too thought it was sad that the film makers felt it necessary to give Gru a partner so that he had a ‘normal’ family. The portrayal of women went beyond sad to deeply disturbing.

    I’m going to call out one scene in particular, and that’s the one where Gru is minding his own business at home when his neighbour turns up at the door to try and match-make Gru with one of her friends. She is incredibly creepy in this scene because she won’t go away. Even when Gru makes one of the children pretend he isn’t at home she doesn’t get the hint and continues to press him to accept her help. She does all of this with a fixed grin and a sense of do-gooding mania.

    This would be bad enough, but Gru then proceeds to *go on the date*, a scene of unremitting vileness that ultimately leads to the aforementioned tranquillizer darting and trip home with the woman tied to the roof of their car.

    The Anti-Villain League partner and love interest isn’t much better as far as portrayals of women go. She’s a supposedly lovable klutz who seems completely subservient to her boss, a typical domineering pointy-haired type constructed to look big and imposing, like the bank manager from the original “Despicable Me”.

    She doesn’t achieve anything throughout the course of the film except to bring Gru into the Anti-Villain League and ends up being literally turned into the damsel in distress when she’s tied to a shark on a missile and fired at a volcano.

    I’ve just remembered another scene with a disturbingly callous treatment of a woman. El Macho, in his cover identity, literally grabs a passing woman (who was with someone, presumably her partner), dances with her very much as if she’s a rag doll to be spun and thrown around, then literally throws her out of the restaurant in a spin to collapse into the arms of the man she’s with.

    This sequel is not just bad but toxic and, in my opinion, is best avoided. I’d rather watch “Megamind” again.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    Up!: working woman with better job than her husband.

    The problem is that Ellie is not a character in the story, except in that she is the motivation for the male protagonist to have his adventure.

    This is the problem with the other female characters you mention (except Merida): the stories are not *their* stories.

    Would it be so horrible to let these stories be, once in a while, about the female characters you seem to agree are so awesome?

  • Bob I

    Wah, Wah, Wah. What about the belittlement of men throughout the whole movie? (Gru?!)

    ” conclusion: that no matter what their own dreams and desires, women are for rescuing and then for marrying.”

    GO CRY TO DISNEY

    Why would anyone over analyse a children’s movie to the point of Nazi-feminism “Obviously, however, a story about a man with daughters needn’t automatically be feminist.”

    You can wish.

  • Jake W

    The reason cars got a sequel is because of all the money that is made on merchandise. It’s not all about box office number. Pixar’s films have been lackluster lately, but they are the farthest thing from sexist. You could literally look at any movie and make up critiques about. Pixar has shown strong independent characters from both genders. I wouldn’t say, either, that elastigirl was any less of a main character than anyone else in the Incredibles.

  • bronxbee

    exactly! Ellie was adventurous and the husband wasn’t… so she sacrificed her love and yearning for more to be with him. so, although i loved the movie, i still can’t help but wonder what the devil Ellie saw in Carl. why couldn’t they have had an adventure *together* even?

  • Danielm80

    I have a feeling you’re the target demographic for this movie.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    There’s *always* a “reason” why there can’t be more movies with strong female protagonists. Always.

  • TheAverageGuyTAG

    “But yes, there is the perception that *Brave* was a failure.”

    Not sure how anyone could perceive Brave as a failure, given that it’s, y’know, a Pixar film. Unless the toy sales were completely pitiful (which I honestly hope was the case, since WAY too many of them were the same whole “pretty princess of prettiness” shtick that completely goes against the whole point of Merida).

  • Ben Brewster

    This movie is “crude, racist, and sexist”? Are you high? You must be, because there is no other logical explanation for your review.

  • amanohyo

    Pixar’s movies aren’t sexist, and they don’t lack strong, independent female characters – it’s just that the central characters are typically male and the female characters are usually relegated to supporting or side roles.

    Watch The Incredibles one more time and keep track of who the central/point of view character is in each scene. Elastigirl is an awesome character and she has a couple great moments; however the script clearly centers on her main squeeze.

    Alright, I’ve typed the same thing three times in a row and it’s off topic, so I’m going to stop posting until I actually watch this movie.

    In the meantime

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Point of order: although it is a spin-off of the Cars films, and has John Lasseter as executive producer, Planes is not being made by Pixar Studios. It’s an in-house production from DisneyToons Studios. I’m not sure why Planes is getting a theatrical release instead of the direct-to-video treatment most DisneyToon flicks get (like the Tinker Bell movies, a couple of which probably could have done reasonably well in theaters in, say, February), but it probably has something to do with trying to cash in on the confusion that Planes is from Pixar. But it’s not.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Why? Not that I don’t like Merida (I do, quite a lot really), but wouldn’t it be best if Pixar wrote new stories about women? Does the world need more Pixar sequels? Monsters U is wholly unnecessary, Cars 2 was just plain old bad, and as much as I enjoyed the Toy Story sequels, I don’t think the world would be a poorer place without them. Especially given that Toy Story 2 and 3 are ultimately just different versions of the same story.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    *Planes* was originally intended to be direct-to-DVD. Someone must have seen dollar signs somewhere.

  • Jurgan

    I love what the Nostalgia Chick said about this attitude: “Entertainment is the only product where our standards are lower for our kids. ‘Oh, who cares if that car seat works- it’s just for my kids!’”

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Yeah, but where? DisneyToon Studios is where Disney sends most of its sequels and spin-offs to die, where only 1-in-6 movies gets a theatrical release. So, why this one? Again, I’m guessing they’re banking on widespread confusion about the relationship, not to Cars, but to Pixar. That, or Lasseter, for whom the Cars movies were an inexplicably personal project, kind of bullied these through, much the way Steve Jobs reportedly bullied Toy Story 2 to theaters.

  • Xyz

    You should have saved your money and invested it in some periods. Holy run on sentence batman.

  • VoiceOfReason

    Wow man you need to relax and enjoy life a bit. I think you are reading WAY too much into the movie and the scenes you reference.

  • amanohyo

    Oh, that’s interesting. It’ll be funny if it turns out better (in a narrative if not technical sense) than either of the Cars.

    We had a long talk at work today about what type of plane would carry Smurfette’s mantle (if you recall, in Cars it was a Porsche) and finally settled on a Queen Air, an ultralight/experimental, or a Citation 650. I hope it’s at least a high-quality cash grab. If anything deserves to be in 3D, it’s a kids’ movie about flying.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    Unless you have something constructive to add, I will delete you comment. Hint: “You need to relax” is not constructive. Another hint: You could explain *why* it’s okay for kids to see stuff like this.

  • Skimble

    I’m not reading anything into the movie, what I described is clear and present. I’m not suggesting that such representations are going to have a societal impact or that the film should be banned yadda yadda, just that I felt the representations were problematic and that I didn’t like the film as a result.

  • Jellybean422

    Gru didnt drug his date, Lucy did. She was a bimbo and moving in on her man. Despicible Me 2 was funnier than the first. I had been waiting for this movie for a year with anticipation and it delivered enough laughs for a 4 hour movie.

  • Simple

    Wow. Critics act like all movies are for the academic elite. The whole theater seemed happy. If you can’t enjoy simple emotions and mostly harmless movies, stick to acting condescending in your immediate circles. The world doesn’t want you.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    Can you explain how not wanting kids to be exposed to racism and sexism is academically elite?

    Thank you.

  • Unworthy

    I have been reading reviews of this movie because I am thinking of taking my children to see it today. Now I know not to come here again. I encourage anyone who would like to read a review of the movie from a child’s perspective to check out cinemanerdz.com, which has a review purportedly written by an eleven-year-old girl. The young reviewer seems to have missed some of the racist and sexist messages the film, but I suppose that’s what college is for. Everyone here enjoy being intellectually and morally superior to your fellow movie-goers. Comment deleted in 3, 2, 1. . .

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    If you haven’t seen the film, how do you know whether that 11-year-old’s response is the one you’d agree with?

    Are you astonished that an 11-year-old might not be able to see how wrongheaded some of this film (or any film) might be?

  • CB

    I only just saw the original Despicable Me. What a wonderful movie! It didn’t exactly scream for a sequel, everything seemed nicely wrapped up, so I was assuming this was probably a pointless cash-grab like most sequels are… But thanks for solidifying that it’s definitely not worth my time or money.

  • Jim Mann

    MaryAnn:

    I often agree with you when you point out the shortcomings in movies the way you did in this one, but in this case, I just didn’t see it (or didn’t see it to anywhere near the degree you did).

    For example, you said:

    ” Somehow this “naturally” translates into a “comedic” running motif about how women are too fat, too ugly, too hairy, too obnoxious, too pushy, too anything-but-“ladylike” for Gru.”

    There was one woman who he shied away from that was shown as looking a bit strange. And the woman he went on a date with who he didn’t like wasn’t just pushy: she was self-obsessed and wanting to make him over from the moment they met. But beyond that, i really didn’t see the whole stream of this that you did.

    Yes, the three kids are trying to get him a date. For the youngest, it’s because she would like to have a mother. But for all of them, particularly the oldest, it seems more that they like Gru and think he’d be happier if he had a partner.

    Jim

  • Adiora

    I didn’t like the movie nearly as much as the first one, but it wasn’t awful. It was often very funny. I kept expecting it to all tie together in some brilliant way, and it never did, but I don’t regret spending the time or money.

    I was, however, very uncomfortable with the racial stereotypes. Being about as WASP-ish as I can be, I never really know when cultural jokes cross the line, but I’m always wary when they’re laid on that thick. I live in South Texas, so I generally go by the audiences’ reaction. The penguins in Happy Feet were greeted with hilarity, and Boondock Saints II had a friend of mine in tears he was laughing so hard. With Despicable Me 2, there was dead silence whenever the character was on screen. So, I’m guessing he wasn’t well received.

    To be fair though, he was hardly the only stereotype. Nor was it only minorities. The obnoxious interfering suburbanite was pretty darn spot-on. The overly plasticized date was another, though I can’t speak to its accuracy. And Gru himself is typical of Cold-War era Russian villainy. Just because we’ve outgrown that particular prejudice doesn’t mean it wasn’t pernicious at the time. So, I guess -ism’s are in the eye of the beholder.

    Anyway, the minions were funny.

  • Nameless

    geez… why is hollywood so obsessed with manipulating the behavioural characteristics of its audiences… dont they have anything better to do than to use imagery and symbolism to modify the culture of whatever “target” audience they are trying to manipulate… someone please get together and tell hollywood to just stop doing this shite… and actually make movies without having an agenda to shape poor childrens minds to what they want them to be…

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    In what way do you think this film is being manipulative? What are children’s minds being shaped toward?

  • Rick

    As an American of Mexican ancestry I am embarrased by the ignorance of my fellow citizens. Stop racism and maybe asssimilation to everything American would happen. Movies that portray Mexicans as short, fat, lazy, and stupid, make America look ignorant and backward. Hardly a people or culture worthy of our respect and admiration.

  • Kate

    Actually, Dory (in “Finding Nemo”) isn’t stupid — she has short-term memory problems that make her SEEM stupid (and in the end, she’s the one who puts things together).

    Just sayin’ . . .

  • Pedro Benoliel

    Wait, is THAT the plot of the film? I thought it was the Anti-Villain League recruiting Gru! Also, from the trailer, I get the feeling that this incurs in a fatal flaw the first one didn’t: TOO MUCH Minions, to the point where they take over the story when they’re meant to be an amusing complement (and this is from someone who defends the Minions tooth and nail as the best thing about the first film.)

    And yet… “LIP-STICK-TA-SEEEEERRRRRR!”

  • http://cereta.livejournal.com/ lucereta

    Based on how much *Brave* stuff is in the Disney Store a year after the movie came out, I’m going to dispute that the merchandising was a failure. I can’t imagine they’d give that much premium space to a failure.

  • Medien Alptraum

    May be the children have to know that all the Mexicans are a very despictable people. Only mexicans are responsible for the drug traffic.

  • Medien Alptraum

    That look alike Mexican Flag in the chest of El Macho was disgusting for Mexican people.

  • Jack S

    Well, I am taking my 4 yr old grandson tomorrow. I am of 2 minds: on one hand, promoting racist and sexist stereotypes is wrong, especially with easily influenced children; on the other hand, if politically record about everything all the time, how is anything ever funny?

    Humour is often in exaggeration and the display of things we know are nonsense. I think what I will do is have some discussion with my 4 year old grandson afterward about the scenes I find offensive. He is a pretty smart 4 yr old.

    I do get why Hispanics, Blacks, Jews, etc, and women in general, can be offended by stereotyping for negative qualities. When someone figures this out, let me know.

    By the way, I am an animal lover, particularly the canine species. Though I always rooted for Wiley Coyote, i still think it is funny how Roadrunner managed to ‘kill’ him over and over again.

  • SimoneNonvelodico

    I saw the movie yesterday. Halfway through the movie I paused to call what I thought would have been the ending: Eduardo was actually El Macho who had faked his death to begin an honest life anew, and after pursuing him for the entire movie Gru would have realized his mistake – as well as finding out that the REAL mastermind behind it all was the guy with the funny name in charge at the AVL! He saves the day, everyone is happy and has learned a good lesson about trusting appearances too much. I honestly thought that would have been the ending. Clearly I gave the writers too much credit.
    Also, I cringed when in a couple scenes Lucy turned from a somewhat competent (if quirky) secret agent who managed to kidnap Gru with ease into yet another Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Hollywood, you can’t do without THAT ONE, can you?

  • Alexandra

    Yeesh, Mary Ann. What made you so bitter? Sure one of the villains was Latino, but THE main Bad Guys were (safely white) Vector and The Bank of Evil. Villains are some of the most likeable characters in this franchise, remember? And I didn’t find the movie at all sexist. Gru picked a partner based on mutual interests, a sense of partnership, and how compatible she was with his unconventional family. It was a fun, sweet movie. Worth the money.

  • jackie

    What the heck is happening here? Sexism??? Is it because the male minions did all the housework and dressed in a French Maids outfits. Are you all offended that they didn’t have a female minion doing all the cooking cleaning etc. for the good old boys!!! FYI Gru came from New Mexico, he just speaks Russian Accent. They had one Latino villain, the others, Vector and his dad were Caucasian. Lucy plays a strong. successful, independent female who ultimately is the hero! The minions are also diverse, the language they speak is an interesting mix Spanish, French, Korean and Japanese (NO ENGLISH), One is even named in Jorge . Dr. Nefario is hearing impaired and the writer of the original story Sergio Pablos is from Spain. Gru is trying to go straight and be a good father, he does not search for a wife to care for his daughters it just happened and I highly doubt he wants her barefoot and pregnant. Last but not least, the minions appear to be gay. They dress in women’s clothes, are obsessed with butts and the final performance of the gay anthem “YMCA” solidifies the message.This movie is an excellent portrayal of diversity and depicts a much more realistic modern day world. I think exposing children to different lifestyles in a pleasurable way can only help them grow into compassionate, caring adults. Treating people poorly because they are different is one of our biggest plaques on society today.If you have a problem with this movie, I suggest you pay close attention to Disney movies

  • http://cereta.livejournal.com/ lucereta

    Um, Brave is a Disney princess movie. It has been merchandised in everything from dolls to clothes and wigs to plates and school bags; You can’t seriously be suggesting that Cars is somehow *more* merchandisable than Brave was.

  • http://cereta.livejournal.com/ lucereta

    It’s a CGI cartoon that my daughter wants to watch over and over and over again. You can’t possibly think the attitudes in it make no impression on her.

  • Tonio Kruger

    I usually have a hairtrigger temper when I comes to Hispanic stereotypes so I was a bit surprised to find that my worst problem with this film’s Latino villain was that he was a bit of a Mary Sue. (Mario Sue?) Am I really supposed to be that offended by a Latino ladies’ man who was in many ways more likeable than the main character? I’m sorry but I have seen worse. Far worse.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    A male Mary Sue is generally called a Marty Stu.

    A hoary *positive* stereotype is still a hoary stereotype. It’s lazy storytelling. That offends me.

  • heysabs

    I too had a problem with the scene where Eduardo literally plucked a woman walking by (with a man) into his restaurant, spun her around and dipped her while all the women in the restaurant ooohed and ahhhhed in swooning delight. Not only does this teach impressionable minds a dangerous anti-lesson about consent, but also about the type of domineering behavior that’s expected of men in order to earn the adoration of women.

    Also disturbing was the cavalier and comical attitude with which the over-the-top stereotypical-female date was simply shot with a tranquilizer dart and driven home unconscious, strapped to the roof of the car, and dropped off on a lawn. Why are we portraying this behavior as normal, let alone tee-heeing about it? It isn’t funny. This is some Steubenville type of shit that we should all be rejecting as a society the minute it starts to cozy up to us again.

    And really?! The CIA agent who was supposedly expert enough to have been capable of single-handedly and deftly kidnapping Gru suddenly becomes coquettish and sexually available as soon as Gru’s plotline calls for a love interest? Yuck.

    This whole movie gives me the creeps.

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