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Movie Review: Despicable Me 2

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Author/Source: Glen Woods

Topic: Movie Review, Reviews

A review of Despicable Me 2, including description of the movie, areas of concern, teachable themes, discussion questions, and scriptures to use.

Movie Review: <em>Despicable Me 2</em>

Overview

When the world needed a hero, they called a villain (from one of the theatrical posters). Enter the former arch-villain Gru: "I'm back in the game!"

Let's face it. As adorable as it is to see Gru struggle to be an attentive daddy to three young girls (Margo, Agnes & Edith) and as ironically funny as it is to see him attempt to redeem his professional calling into a respectable jam maker, it just doesn't make for entertaining theater for very long without the temptation to unleash his inner villainy once again. Besides, the minions and Gru all agree that the jam tastes horrible.

And so he's back in the game, responding to the AVL's (Anti-Villain League) request to help them nab a new villain who has pulled off a nefarious scheme designed to usurp Gru's former claim as the greatest villain of all time.

Balancing his tender care for the girls on one hand, with his devious ability to concoct schemes to expose and foil the new villain on the other, Gru has his hands full. That would be bad enough. But there is a lady (Lucy, the cute AVL agent who lipstick tazored him and then dragged him to her headquarters, later being assigned to him as his partner) now in the mix, and her charms have not gone unnoticed by Gru, or his daughters, especially the youngest who so very much wants a mommy.

The plot thickens and the game is afoot. But this is about Gru, not Sherlock, as even Watson no doubt would point out. As the story unfolds, danger lurks for the minions, the girls, and for Gru. Interestingly, Gru seems to retain aspects of his former villainous character, showing little concern when most of his minions inexplicably disappear, except to express annoyance at the inconvenience to himself. So he lacks empathy on one hand for the minions or innocent bystanders in various scenes, but admirably displays it in spades on behalf of his daughters on the other. Not to mention his growing fondness for Lucy. But you will have to watch the film yourself to see how that works out.

Concerns   

Despicable Me 2 is rated PG for rude humor and mild action. On numerous occasions the humor is more rude than it is funny, resorting to jokes about flatulence and insulting comments about the appearance (baldness, weight, etc) of various characters.

The action shows violence with no real sense that anyone is going to be seriously hurt. These occur as a mixture of pratfalls and comic attacks between adversaries. However, younger children will be hard-pressed to understand the difference between animated violence and reality.

Gru's oldest daughter, Margo, develops a serious crush on a boy who at first woos her and then dumps her.

Gru shows little regard for his minions, despite his supposedly reformed character, although he does rescue them and the world from their mayhem in the end.

Older kids should be okay. Younger children may become frightened when the minions are transformed into vicious, heartless creatures of destruction.

Teachable Themes

 

  • Fatherhood
      Gru clearly loves his daughters. Enough to instruct them. Protect them. Dress up as a princess for them. Read stories to them. Listen to them. Provide for them. Spend time with them. He is deeply flawed, but enthusiastically and unapologetically engaged in his role.
  • Old Nature vs New
      Gru clearly has made great strides away from his former way of life, even to the point of trying to become a respectable businessman. But his old nature strives with the new, as shown in his apparent lack of empathy for the minions, and his unspoken but obvious potential to turn again to a life of villainy, should he find a way to justify it.
  • Childhood Hurts
      Gru experienced deep childhood hurt from the actions and words of other children, particularly as it related to dating. One consequence was the lingering fear of courtship due to childhood ridicule. Along with Gru's capacity for fatherhood tenderness, this grants us great empathy for him. It also speaks to our hearts, and the deep hurts we have experienced in childhood and since that time. It should refresh our sensitivity toward the children to whom we minister.
  •  

    Biblical References

    Fatherhood/Parenthood

    • Ephesians 6:4 - Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
    • Colossians 3:21 - Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
    • Deuteronomy 6:4-9 - Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates.

    Old Nature vs New Nature

    • Romans 7:21-25 - So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

    Childhood Hurts

    • Luke 17:1-4 - Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

    Discussion Questions:

    • What are the characteristics of a good parent, especially a father?
    • How might a parent who follows Jesus be different than an ordinary good father or mother?
    • When a follower of Jesus is tempted to think bad thoughts or do bad things, what should he do?
    • What is one example from your childhood of how you have been hurt by others?
    • How are you presently dealing with that hurt?
    • What system do you have in place to help you know that you have hurt someone else?
    • When you have hurt someone else, what should be your first response?

    Conclusion

    Despicable Me 2 is an odd mix of cheap laughs which do not quite measure up to that of their predecessor, and subtle complex characterization, showing that you may be able to take the villain out of a life of crime, but it takes far more to uproot his former nature out of him completely. Consequently, I left the theatre feeling encouraged by Gru's respectful, tender, and even courageous (it takes courage to dress up as a fairy princess for his youngest girl's birthday party when the hired act refuses to show up!) growth as a father. But I also sensed an underlying potential for him to resort to his nefarious ways once again, given his unresolved anger issues and lack of concern toward his minions and people not close to him.

    In a way, I saw a hint of myself in him, capable of self-deprecating tender care, and ruthless disregard for those who anger him. It's that second part that concerns me...for his sake and mine. How about you?




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