Despicable Me 2
It hasn’t been easy, but Gru is adjusting to his new life.
I mean, just figuring out a while back that he wasn’t really rotten to the core was a difficult first step, one that hit him like a photon death ray. After all, training to be the most megalomaniacal meanie ever takes a certain dedication. And then there’s all that investment in diabolical contraptions and dastardly thingamajigs. It’s not like he can just put that lot up on eBay and get his money back.
But, hey, when it’s right … it’s right. And Gru—the former supervillain who once swiped the moon and left the world screaming while he postured and mwoohahaed—has come to grips with the fact that he’s really a softy down deep. He’s an average, bald-headed, mastermind who simply loves being a dad to three completely adorable little adopted daughters.
And he’s getting the swing of things, too. He knows the ins and outs of helping with school projects and kissing everyone goodnight at bedtime. And his army of gibberish-spouting, goggle-wearing yellow minions have successfully rejiggered his manufacturing plant from creating fearsome inventions to a producing jellies and jams (though having the Mad Scientist who invented the so-called “fart gun” as your taste tester isn’t always a win-win).
There is another sticky situation at hand, though, one that has Gru grimacing grimly. And, no, it’s not that nosey neighbor woman who’s incessantly trying to set him up on a date. It’s something called the Anti-Villain League.
This secretive group wants Gru to track down the evil perpetrator of a fiendish heist. In fact, the Anti-Villain League is seeking a furtive fugitive felon who filched an entire artic research lab to get his mitts on a transmutation serum that can turn innocent creatures into indestructible monsters. It’s the kind of plot Gru himself might have cooked up not long ago. And it’s a plot that the Anti-Villain League thinks Gru can foil.
But does Gru really want to go out and fight crime? Hmmm. He’s not so sure.
There is no question that Gru is a changed man, and it’s all thanks to his daughters. He loves them completely and is even ready to humiliate himself if it will mean that a daughter’s birthday party is a smile-filled success. The girls love him sincerely in return.
In fact, this animated comedy is packed with some sweet messages about the fundamental goodness of adoption, parenting, marriage and the whole positive impact of being a family.
Following up a surprise success at the box office with a sequel can be a real challenge. And that’s especially true when the main joy of the original was watching a cute trio of innocents melt the icy heart of a maniacal meanie and transform him into a doting dad. I mean where do you go from there? After all, you can’t make the once despicable guy dastardly again, right?
Right. And Despicable Me 2’s creative team wisely shies away from even considering that tack. Instead they make their reformed rogue into an even better hero. He’s a doting, protective father turned uncomfortable do-gooder who fights the baddies with his own insider knowledge—all the while championing familial love with an even bigger hug.
This pic has action. It has an avalanche of goofy yellow minions bonking and pratfalling with Three Stooges-like glee. And it’s rich with fun characters who all vie to, uh, steal any given scene they happen to be in.
The only drawback here is some slightly off-color humor, the kind that has marred many an animated kid pic before. This time around, we get androgynous cross-dressing jests and naked minion backsides, gaseous gags and poo-poo giggles. These occasional annoyances don’t really smell the place up. But they do render this otherwise delightful film’s family-affirming moments and its happy-ending bouquet a tad less appealingly fragrant. For that reason we give Despicable Me 2 4 out of 5 for family friendliness.
The Lone Ranger
John Reid can’t stand guns.
Oh sure, he’s a lawman—after a fashion. But not like his heroic, gun-twirling brother, Dan. John tackles law in a courtroom, not on the parched trails of the Wild West. Books are his weapons, not guns. And he likes it that way.
But when despicable evildoer Butch Cavendish escapes from a train that’s taking him to be hanged, Dan and his posse of Texas Rangers must ride out to capture him. And little brother John—newly arrived to the dusty town of Colby, Texas—gets deputized, too.
Hot on the trail of Butch and his gang, the Rangers are ambushed in an exposed canyon. Dan and all his brave buddies get gunned down—John included.
Lucky that Tonto and that weird spirit horse come by.
The Comanche was, in truth, just planning to sift through the bodies and make a few “trades:” He’d take something of value and leave something in return—a feather, a stick. Something. He’s surprised when that beautiful white horse (whom Tonto believes is blessed with supernatural powers) takes a special interest in John’s supposed corpse. If the horse is filled with a spirit, he really should be more interested in Dan, John’s much more skilled and dangerous older brother. Dan’s the noble warrior, Tonto thinks. Surely, if anyone deserves to come back from the dead, it’d be Da—
But no, the horse keeps plodding over to John’s shallow, dusty grave.
And so Tonto, never one to look a gifted horse in the mouth, hauls John’s lifeless body back to camp and mystically nurses him back to the land of the living. When John comes to, Tonto tells him he’s now a spirit walker, back from the dead and unable to be killed in battle. He gives John a mask made from his dead brothers’ vest and encourages him to avenge the deaths of the Rangers and cleanse the West of a little evil.
Tonto has his own reasons for going after Cavendish. The bad guy was one of the men responsible for wiping out his entire village, and for decades Tonto has been seeking to dish out some retribution. And while Plugged In has never been a big supporter of the sort of frontier justice that Tonto would like to deal, his determination to catch some very bad men is admirable.
Naturally, we can laud John—who, of course, becomes the Lone Ranger—for much the same reason. The Lone Ranger has long been an iconic figure of righteousness and justice in the lawless old West. And while this Disney reboot suffers a bit in comparison to our traditional view of this character, there’s little question that the latest iteration of the Lone Ranger is still out there trying to do some good and to bring justice to the dusty frontier. Both of the film’s main characters display courage, ingenuity and an almost superhuman amount of luck.
Still, there are elements in The Lone Ranger that you need to know before considering it for you family.
- Christianity is shown as silly and ineffectual.
- The movie suffers from a very high body count.
- Cavendish is, it seems, and cannibal and (though off camera) plucks out and eats Dan’s heart.
- Crude or Profane Language
Conclusion: For about 10 minutes, this movie did everything right. But in the end The Lone Ranger is NOT the same uplifting movie you saw when you were growing up. For that reason we give it a 2 out of 5 for family friendliness.