Despicable Me 3 (2017) Review

Despicable Me 3 (2017)

Directed by Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda

Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel, Steve Coogan, Julie Andrews, Jenny Slate, Chris Renaud

Music by Heitor Pereira & Pharrell Williams

Production company: Illumination Entertainment

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In the film, Gru teams up with his long lost twin Dru in order to defeat a new enemy named Balthazar Bratt, a 1980s child actor who grows up to become a villain.

My Opinion:

Another quickie review today! I’m trying to catch up since I try to review the things I see in the cinema (I managed to finally review Gifted yesterday). At least I missed out on Spider-Man: Homecoming due to a headache so I don’t have to worry about reviewing that! Wait, no – that sucks. I want to see that, dammit. But now I don’t know when it’ll be. Anyone seen it? What did you think? Oops – I’m meant to be reviewing Despicable Me 3…

What can I say? I love those damn minions (one of cinema’s greatest creations, quite frankly). I absolutely adore the three Despicable Me girls (I’d adopt them if you could legally adopt cartoon children) and I love their adorable relationship with Gru. The first Despicable Me film is a favorite of mine, which is extremely rare for an animated movie that wasn’t made by Pixar or Disney. I’m a total Disney/Pixar snob – all other animation production companies can’t even compare. BUT! The first Despicable Me rules. The characters, the soundtrack, the MINIONS…. ! Love it.

As with all money-grabbing animation sequels, though, Despicable Me 2 & 3 obviously pale in comparison to the first. I looked back at my review for Despicable Me 2 (HERE) and I was far too generous with my rating, which I’ve now knocked down slightly to 7.5/10. That’s still probably too high but I think I was buzzing from once again getting to see these characters that I enjoy. I felt the same way while watching number 3 and, when first coming out of the cinema last weekend, probably would’ve rated it slightly too high if I hadn’t waited a week to review it. I at first felt it was a tiny bit better than number 2 but have since changed my mind since watching part of that one with the kid again. 2 & 3 are fairly close but 2 gets half a point more for funnier minion scenes, better use of Pharrell’s brilliant music, and a much stronger opening. Both 2 & 3’s villains are quite weak but, meh – who cares when we get to see Gru, the girls & the minions again? Gru’s long-lost twin brother is probably a love-him-or-hate-him addition but I found him a better character than the lacklustre villains of the last two and slightly less annoying than Lucy (who I’m still unfortunately not crazy about, but that’s not helped by her not being given much to do in number 3).


I think I’m probably going too easy on this film because I love the characters & also love seeing how much my kid enjoys these movies (I think she thinks she IS Agnes sometimes). Despicable Me 3 isn’t a great film but, if you love these characters, I think you’ll get some enjoyment out of it anyway so I would still recommend it to fans. I think reviews have been a bit too harsh since the first movie was so good. But, to be fair, I’ve seen FAR worse animated sequels. And it’s certainly better than the Minions movie, which truly suffered from the lack of the three girls. Oh, and I’ll say I was very worried when seeing the trailer for this one that the girls would barely be in it (why the hell weren’t they in the trailer?!) so I’m happy to say their roles are about as big as they were in the second film. Maybe that’s why I ended up not being disappointed since that horrible trailer gave me very low expectations. But I enjoyed it just fine. It’s watchable. I still adore these characters. But it would be nice if the movies were getting slightly better each time instead of slightly worse…

My Rating: 6.5/10

*I’ve amended this rating – think I was too generous with a 7/10…

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The Big Short (2015) Review

The Big Short (2015)

Directed by Adam McKay

Based on The Big Short by Michael Lewis

Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Big Short is a 2015 American biographical comedy-drama film based on the non-fiction 2010 book of the same name by Michael Lewis about the financial crisis of 2007–2008, which was triggered by the build-up of the housing market and the credit bubble.

My Opinion:

Seriously? The Big Snore is up for the Best Picture Oscar?? No. Just… No. It’s not a bad film but it is pretty damn… Hmm. I don’t know! Pretentious? Up its own arse? Kind of like the Academy, I suppose.

This was the movie I was talking about in my review of Spotlight when I said that the Academy is out of touch with the general public. This feels like the kind of movie that they nominate because they feel like they should. I’m not saying that stuff like Trainwreck or Jurassic World should be up for Oscars or anything like that. The general public likes a load of shit! But can a film not be “worthy” AND also be entertaining? Too many Oscar nominees in the last ten years are, quite frankly, just plain boring to watch. And what happened to movies that are just beautiful pieces of art? I’d say The Revenant fits that description – it’s absolutely beautiful. Where the HELL am I going with this argument?! I have no idea!!! πŸ˜‰ I mean, Mad Max: Fury Road is up for Best Picture and that movie kicks m*%#erf*%#ing ass so it invalidates my argument. Back to The Big Short

It probably doesn’t help that I was really disappointed at having to go to this movie since The Hateful Eight was sold out. However, it’s an Oscar nominee so I figured I’d at least appreciate it after making myself sit through it. Dammit – I can’t say that’s what happened.

The Big Short is not all bad and the story itself, although too complicated for us everyday idiots (as the movie constantly points out to us morons) is pretty damn fascinating. But, yes, you’re SO right BigShort-makers – I clearly am an idiot because all the talk of loans and numbers and banking did indeed make my eyes glaze over. Yes, I fully admit that I couldn’t follow any of that but I found the celebrity-cameo-fourth-wall-breaking childish explanations to be completely obnoxious. And they still made no damn sense of it all.

All the condescending breaking of the fourth wall aside, I did really like following some of the individual stories. This movie feels a bit messy as it focuses on so many different characters but I suppose it also gave me something to look forward to during the parts I didn’t care about so much.

My favorite parts by far involved Brad Pitt and the two young men his character worked with during this housing market loan bubble thingymabob gobbledegook. I thought Pitt was really good. Remember his very very early days when his acting was pretty dodgy? No, you’re all too young. Trust me – he’s now a very good actor compared to how he started out and he’s one of a handful of actors that may make me actually watch a movie I otherwise might have avoided.

I can’t stand Christian Bale (no reason – just can’t) and his character was in danger of being an annoying caricature but, by the end, his story was the one I enjoyed the most after the Pitt trio. But anytime Steve Carell or especially Ryan Gosling were on screen, I lost interest. They just didn’t work for me, especially Gosling’s arrogant whatever-the-hell kind of rich, straight, white, male scam artist he was.

The Big Short takes what could potentially be a rather boring story involving financial matters that it knows most of us won’t understand and manages to make a movie that is not only rather boring but also obnoxious by infusing humor that doesn’t quite work and by constantly reminding us that it’s smarter than its audience. But, if I’m not being so cynical, I suppose that’s the point the whole film is trying to make so it’s actually quite brilliant.

Basically, loads of Americans were lied to and sold the “American Dream” thing by big banks who ultimately f*%ed them over the way big money always does and the little guys all lost their homes while rich bankers got even richer. The rich bankers are smarter than us and the rich filmmakers are smarter than us. Okay, The Big Short, I guess I get the point you’re trying to make. Too bad I was too bored to care.

I’d watch a movie about this topic again as I do think it’s one hell of a crazy & scandalous story but I think I’d prefer to see it from the viewpoint of us everyday schmucks who always get screwed over. Or maybe in a slightly different style, at least. Financial shit is boring as hell but, hey, The Wolf Of Wall Street was FAR from boring. Maybe this would’ve been a better film if it had been made by Scorsese. Bonus points for Brad Pitt’s & Christian Bale’s characters, though – those bits help liven up what is otherwise a movie not really worthy of a Best Picture nomination.

My Rating: 5.5/10

** I went to Spotlight & The Big Short two Sundays ago on my own and, in between the two movies, I texted my husband. I just thought I’d share this as the predictive text really cracked me up. I’m easily amused… πŸ˜‰ My texts are in blue:

Foxcatcher (2014) Review

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Foxcatcher (2014)

Directed by Bennett Miller

Starring:
Steve Carell
Channing Tatum
Mark Ruffalo
Vanessa Redgrave
Sienna Miller

Running time: 134 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Foxcatcher is a 2014 American biographical drama film based on the true events surrounding John du Pont’s efforts in hiring the Schultz brothers to help train US wrestling Olympians.

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My Opinion:

I’ll keep this brief (I promise!). This sort of true story drama isn’t really my sort of thing usually. Obviously, this isn’t the type of movie where you can exactly say you “loved it” or thoroughly enjoyed it or that you’d want to watch over & over again. It’s not an easy watch but I did think it was a good film with wonderful performances (even from Channing Tatum!).

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As for the real life story, I didn’t know a THING about it beforehand. I’d never heard of anyone involved & didn’t know what the outcome would be so I was totally engrossed the entire time. As always, I won’t reveal the full plot as I think it’s probably better to watch this with no knowledge of what happened if you don’t already know the story. It’s a very slooooowwww movie and also very quiet (which makes you feel self-conscious while munching on popcorn!). I think some people may not like the slow pace but this is a movie that is all about the performances and the character studies of a very eccentric millionaire and a lonely young man who strike up an unusual partnership & friendship.

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The nominations received by Steve Carell & Mark Ruffalo so far are indeed well deserved. It’s a shame that Channing Tatum seems to be being left out but his performance deserves praise as well. It may be because he doesn’t seem to exactly be playing against “type”… I’ve complained about him before – Magic Mike was rubbish & he seemed very out of place in Side Effects. However, the Jump Street films really suit him and this role does as well. Unfortunately, he’s overshadowed by Carell (who I never liked until The Way Way Back – why do I only like funny actors when they move on to serious roles?) and even, surprisingly, Ruffalo.

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Summary:

Foxcatcher is well worth the watch just for the performances alone. The tension builds very slowly and I’ll admit that the story possibly takes a little too long to tell but the time spent is worth it for the amount of character development you get. I can’t say I “enjoyed” the movie due to the subject matter (the outcome but also the “wrestling” – I’m sorry but, especially as a girl, I just DON’T get wrestling). However, it’s luckily not a “sports” movie as that part takes a backseat to the exploration of the relationship between Carell’s & Tatum’s characters. I’m glad I saw it and I found Carell’s character fascinating.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014) Review

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Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)

Directed by Miguel Arteta

Based on Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Starring:
Steve Carell
Jennifer Garner
Ed Oxenbould
Dylan Minnette
Kerris Dorsey
Bella Thorne
Elise & Zoey Vargas
Sidney Fullmer
Megan Mullally
Jennifer Coolidge
Dick Van Dyke

Running time: 82 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Alexander’s day begins with gum stuck in his hair, followed by more calamities. Though he finds little sympathy from his family and begins to wonder if bad things only happen to him, his mom, dad, brother, and sister all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

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My Opinion:

Well, what can I say about this one? It’s a family movie aimed at kids. I thought it did a good job keeping various ages in mind (probably starting around age 7 or 8 & up) and I don’t think the parents who take their kids to this one will hate it or anything. I even think non-grumpy teens wouldn’t mind it as there’s a teenage brother (if there’s such a thing as a non-grumpy teen?). Sometimes the animated thing can be a little boring so you almost feel like you’re watching a “proper movie” at least when you start watching some live action stuff with your kid.

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I enjoyed this one just fine as a wholesome “family” movie. I didn’t know the story at all so don’t know how closely it follows the book. What I liked is that you see a day in the life of each family member so you get each of their stories as they each have their own “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day”. Being the age of the parents I of course liked their stories, especially Jennifer Garner’s book publishing fiasco (with a visit from Dick Van Dyke. Chim Chim Cher-ee!). The title character, Alexander, is just turning 12 so you have the story of his birthday party drama as well as his teenage brother’s prom drama, his older sister’s school play drama, and both his parents and their separate work dramas.

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It’s of course a little “silly” at times but not to the point that I found it at all irritating, which is more than I can say for a lot of kids’ films. The kids felt “real” as opposed to some perfect-looking actors and the family felt like a realistic, loving family plus they didn’t bicker in obnoxious ways (which is far too common in some family movies and always gets on my nerves). Jennifer Coolidge has a small role as the teenage brother’s driving instructor. She may be a “love her or hate her” but I love her – she always cracks me up! Steve Carell is also not to everyone’s taste but I don’t think anyone would mind him in this – he plays it straight. OH! And the baby “brother” is played by the same set of twin girls who played the baby girl in Bad Neighbours (aka Neighbors). Most adorable babies EVER.

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Summary:

This is a perfectly fine wholesome family film that’s actually pretty fun and has something for everyone as there are characters of varying ages with each of their own storylines. Even Jennifer Garner’s character using the word “penis” was still wholesome (and one of the funniest bits! but that may just be me showing my maturity level). I saw a few negative “critic” reviews but, seriously – lighten up grumpy butts! What do they expect – The Godfather for kids? Sometimes you wonder if certain adults were ever kids themselves. This movie is what it is and I consider it a perfectly acceptable form of simple family entertainment that isn’t too preachy or too stupid – it’s just meant to be fun.

My Rating: 6/10

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Curly Sue (1991) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes, again, from Rob of Movie Rob. Rob is John Hughes CRAZY! Lol! Let’s see if he liked Curly Sue. πŸ™‚

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“You can cry and not feel sad, just like you can feel sad and not cry.” – Bill Dancer

Number of Times Seen – 1 (12 Mar 2014)

Brief Synopsis – A homeless man and his “daughter” try to get by in life by scamming unsuspecting people until one day they meet a lawyer who quite possibly could help them become a real family.

My Take on it – I have always been a Jim Belushi fan (in some ways he is funnier than his brother John was) and this movie is no exception to that rule.

Belushi plays the part of a homeless con artist very well and he has great onscreen chemistry with the young actress who plays Curly Sue and with Kelly Lynch as the lawyer who befriends them.

This movie works well due in large part to that chemistry which isn’t always easy to accomplish because you need a great writer (like John Hughes) to develop the characters well enough and then find the right actors to embody those personas properly.

The story itself isn’t really new, but since it’s done right, it doesn’t matter much.

This movie also features the on screen debut of a little known actor named Steve Carell.

This was also Hughes final film as a director which could in part be due to the fact that he and Belushi didn’t agree on many aspects of the character causing production to be halted numerous times.

This movie is filled with lots of sentimentality that it just draws you in and you accept the story and characters for what they give you; an enjoyable 2 hours.

Bottom Line – Heart warming movie about making the best of life while still striving for better things.

Recommended!

Rating – Globe Worthy

The Way Way Back (2013) Review

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The Way Way Back (2013)

Directed by Nat Faxon & Jim Rash

Starring:
Steve Carell
Toni Collette
Allison Janney
AnnaSophia Robb
Sam Rockwell
Maya Rudolph
Rob Corddry
Amanda Peet
Liam James

Running time: 103 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
14-year-old Duncan (Liam James) goes on summer vacation to his mom Pam’s (Toni Collette) new boyfriend Trent’s (Steve Carell) beach house in Cape Cod. Duncan looks set to have a dreadful vacation as Trent treats him horribly but things start looking up when he meets pretty neighbor Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb) and local water park employee Owen (Sam Rockwell).

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My Opinion:

You know how some indie movies (Is this indie? Maybe not. The lines are so blurred these days) are annoyingly pretentious and no fun to watch? Well, even though it looked like it had the potential to be, The Way Way Back luckily isn’t one of those. It was great fun and is definitely close to the top of my list of 2013 movies I’ve seen.

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The Way Way Back reminded me a bit of Adventureland (Wait! Don’t run away if you hated that one!). I enjoyed that film despite not being a fan of any of the stars as I loved the setting of a theme park in the 1980s. I think most people hate at least one star in Adventureland, which hurt the movie. The Way Way Back doesn’t have that problem (for me) and is a better film with a much better script.

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It was originally going to be set in the 80s as well but, due to not having the budget, they had to set it in the present. But the film still has a great 1980’s feel to it, which is a big plus to me as I love that cheesy decade. They even left in things like Duncan singing REO Speedwagon (Can you get more “80’s cheese” than that?! Maybe with some Journey…) and Owen quoting Bonnie Tyler & using Pac-Man to explain his whole philosophy on life. Oh I loved all that! And I loved the water park setting as there were a lot of these in my neck of the woods and I miss those lovely, sunny 80’s summers (especially the sunny part now that I live in England!).

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Yes, it’s a “coming of age” story but I love a good coming of age story when done well. Liam James is great as Duncan, a very likeable shy and awkward boy who is almost non-existent to his father and his new wife while his mother’s new boyfriend constantly belittles him and bosses him around. Now, Steve Carell isn’t for everyone (me included) but he’s truly excellent in this role, which is FAR different from his comedic roles. He’s a total prick to Duncan and you’ll seriously want to punch him in the face, especially during the “three” talk. But his character doesn’t go overboard – he feels very much like a real person as, unfortunately, there are many people just like him. And Toni Collette is very good as Duncan’s mom, who is just trying to keep things together after her divorce and doesn’t like seeing Duncan so unhappy.

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But! Things aren’t all sad & depressing in the film. Duncan finds a girl’s bike in the garage one day and cycles to a water park called Water Wizz where he befriends Sam Rockwell’s Owen, who offers Duncan a job at the park. The water park scenes are by far the highlight of the film. Owen is an easygoing, laidback (probably too laidback) guy who, predictably but hilariously, helps turn Duncan’s life around and makes him finally feel like he belongs somewhere. I’ve never been quite sure how I feel about Sam Rockwell but I LOVED him in this. He’s hilarious but also so sweet as the seemingly bad role model for Duncan who in reality turns out to be the most positive male influence in Duncan’s life.

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There are other good characters in the film, such as Maya Rudolph as the Water Wizz employee always trying to get Owen to behave more responsibly, AnnaSophia Robb’s Susanna as the cute girl-next-door who befriends Duncan, and Allison Janney as Susanna’s irresponsible mother (Typical annoying, mouthy, and nosy neighbor but she’s SO damn funny in this!). However, the best thing about the movie is definitely the friendship between Duncan & Owen.

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Summary:

The Way Way Back is a great coming of age film that gets just the right balance between comedy and drama without being overly sentimental. The characters feel real as do their relationships. I really can’t think of one negative thing to say about The Way Way Back – it’s a thoroughly enjoyable film and one of my favorites of the year.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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Despicable Me 2 (2013) Review

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**SPOILER FREE REVIEW**

Despicable Me 2

Directed by Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud

Starring Voice Actors:
Steve Carell
Russell Brand
Kristen Wiig
Benjamin Bratt
Steve Coogan
Ken Jeong
Miranda Cosgrove

Music by Pharrell Williams & Heitor Pereira

Studio: Illumination Entertainment
Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Plot Synopsis:

After becoming a father to Margo, Edith, and Agnes, Gru is no longer an evil mastermind and is instead throwing kids’ birthday parties & making jelly. That is, until he’s recruited by the Anti-Villain League and must help save the world from a new evil villain…

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My Opinion:

I’m a HUGE fan of the first Despicable Me. It’s the first (and only) non-Disney or Pixar animated film that I’ve ever really liked. Everything about it is brilliant – the relationship between Gru and the three girls who are loveable without ever being overly saccharine and feisty without being bratty, the hilarious minions (one of the greatest cinematic creations in recent years in my opinion), and both Steve Carell & Russell Brand being genuinely funny instead of sometimes slightly annoying. Luckily, all these things are again present in Despicable Me 2.

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It was never going to live up to the first one (not many sequels do). But at least it comes close, so I’m happy with that. It starts early on with a birthday party for Agnes, which reminds us how much Gru fell in love with these three girls and how he’d do anything for them. I love the relationship between Gru and the girls – It was great seeing that develop in the first one and to watch Gru go from villain to hero so, of course, we don’t get that in this film. But we still see plenty of Gru & the girls together in this one and, at the end, we get a moment ALMOST as sweet as when Gru reads the girls the story he wrote in the first Despicable Me (that scene gets me every time!). And we get Gru being a (very!) overly protective father when Margo starts showing an interest in boys. Some great funny scenes involved with that!

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And then, of course, we have the MINIONS. Oh man – I love those little dudes so much! I want my own army of minions. And they’re as hilarious as always. Luckily, there are a lot more scenes with them in this one than in the first film. That’s a good thing (to me, at least). And they’re even more funny this time. I won’t spoil anything but I’ll say they sing a song at one point and the “lead singer” REALLY cracked me up. And there are so many little funny “blink and you’ll miss it” moments with the minions – it’s a lot like how you really need to pay attention to what’s happening in the background of Pixar films. The minions are just plain brilliant – I can see why they’re making a whole movie just about them.

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I really have nothing bad to say about this film other than, overall, the plot was weaker than the one in the original movie. And the new character of Lucy Wilde, who works with Gru as part of the Anti-Villain League, borders on annoying (which is kind of the point anyway). But so does Kristen Wiig, who voices this character. But these are pretty minor things and didn’t ruin my enjoyment at again seeing these characters for whom I have such affection. And, again, the music is brilliant thanks to Pharrell Williams & Heitor Pereira – something I also loved about the first one. And Gru goes on a pretty hilarious date with a woman far more annoying than Kristen Wiig… Plus we have cross-dressing minions again – one dressed as a French maid and one in frilly underwear. Okay – maybe I’m immature but cross-dressing minions are awesome. πŸ˜‰

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Summary:

Doesn’t quite have the heart of the first one but definitely has all of the humor, if not more. This movie is genuinely hilarious, which is very hard for kids’ films to achieve (trust me – the adults in our sold-out cinema were laughing as much as the kids). Despicable Me 2 is just plain FUN. But, if for some reason you’ve not seen the first one, definitely watch it before seeing the sequel – you really need to understand the characters of Gru & the girls. You’re missing out if you’ve not seen the first one. If you have and if you love it, you won’t be disappointed by the sequel.

My Rating: 7.5/10

(If you’re curious, my 1st Despicable Me rating: 9/10)

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**Forgot to add – there are quite a few funny extra scenes with the minions throughout the credits so you might want to stay for that. I believe there’s no scene AFTER the credits…

Movies I’ve Seen In 2013