Despicable_Me_2_posterWe’ve all been there, I’m sure. You reach a certain age, early teens or so, when you still get up on Christmas morning with the usual sense of eager anticipation, still feel that tickle in your stomach when you see all those presents waiting for you under the tree. And okay, so the first few you open are confusingly sensible — where last year you may have got a Domino Rally, this year you’ve got socks, or last year you may have got a snooker table, this year you’ve got socks — but somewhere in that big ole stack of pressies, there’s just got to be something good. And then you maybe have three or four still to unwrap but you get a different feeling in your stomach. It’s not a tickle. It’s a combination of realisation and dread. It’s not going to get any better. This is it. And from here on in, this is always going to be it. Christmas equals socks. Maybe later on that day, you become fixated with the knowledge of your own mortality. Merry Christmas.

So. Despicable Me 2, then.

I had high hopes. I confess that I hadn’t seen the original but I’d heard good things about it and the trailer for the sequel made me smile with those yellow critters babbling away with what seemed like a foreign language version of Barbara Ann. That should’ve been a hint right there, that the trailer gave away nothing about the plot because now I’ve been exposed to it, the plot really should belong to a much higher numbered sequel.

Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) has turned his back on villainy and embraced jam and jelly making. He’s approached by the AVL (Anti-Villain League) to assist them with tracking down the baddie who had recently stolen an entire Arctic laboratory full of a secret deadly substance called PX-41. Kinda like Rambo. Kinda. The minions, it seems, aren’t that great at making jam or jelly so Gru reluctantly agrees. Traces of PX-41 have been found at a shopping mall so Gru and AVL agent and love interest Lucy (Kristen Wiig) set up a bogus cupcake store so they can investigate and probably save the world or something.

It’s not that it’s bad, as such, it’s just not very good. And it’s a bit all over the place. And kind of a mess. And so very tired. And not really all that funny. And quite boring.

But hey! There’s the minions, right? The minions will surely save the day.

And to some extent, they do. They’re funny in the same way that Mr Bean used to be funny and it’s so very clear that the makers of DM2 know that without them the movie would stink a lot ranker than it already does. They’re given a huge amount of screen time, to the extent that the main narrative of the film is rendered even more inconsequential, so it’s hard not to speculate that maybe we’d have been better off binning the rest of the movie and just had the minions doing their thing for an hour and a half instead, perhaps with the underused Steve Coogan in it more than he was, too.

Visually it looks very nice, much like those wrapped-up Christmas presents, but no more than we should reasonably expect these days. Rise of the Guardians, a far worse movie, looked about as good, as did Hotel Transylvania, which I was reminded of more than once during DM2’s 98 minute running time. That said, I saw it in 2D and saw nothing of any great importance that would’ve been better with an additional D.

It’s all a bit of a letdown, really. At least with Christmas you get a turkey dinner afterwards. Here there was just a sad stumble to the foyer where everyone was putting on a brave face while they tried to convince each other that it was better than it actually was. We’ll keep telling ourselves that but deep down, we know the truth. We wear the socks.