Disappointed me

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By Gary Covington

Looking In

Friday, August 16, 2013

"HILARIOUS." "Two thumbs up!" "Four stars! A blast of fun."

That's reviewers and critics gushing over the recently released Despicable Me 2 and obviously a different movie to the one I watched.

That's the trouble with sequels; they're never, ever, as good as the original. Despicable Me 1 was released in 2010, the most inventive animated comedy feature of the year despite the Oscar people awarding the statuette to the then latest episode of the Toy Story franchise: 3, 5 or 6, I forget which.


Despicable Me 1 was a hard act to follow and 2 failed miserably.

The same dream sequences; the same nick-of-time rescue of Gru by Dr. Nefario. The same jokes; the fart gun, Gru's bungling attempts to penetrate the villain's lair, Dr. Nefario's slo-mo scooter. Jokes funny first time around but not good enough to pull out of the bag again.

I smirked a couple of times, laughed out loud only once when Gru stuffed a frisbee down a roadside gully in one slick motion -- just about the only glimpse of the old really despicable Gru.

Gone is the nasty furniture, almost gone is Gru's arsenal of unlikely weapons. Gone is DM 1's super cool villain Vector last seen stranded on the moon, replaced by El Macho, a Bluto-esque lump of lard and -- heaven help us -- Gru gets married. What next -- Despicable Us?

I know, I can hear you, doesn't he like ANYTHING? Well, yes, I'm a fan of cartoons but it does seem that animation companies are going for quantity rather than quality. You need a calculator to tot up the number of sequels over the last two or three years -- Toy Story, Ice Age, Madagasgar, Cars, Shrek, Happy Feet, Kung Fu Panda etc, etc -- but how many true originals? Half-a-dozen?

Take this year -- The Croods; I actually gave up after fifteen minutes or so. Epic; a rehash of Arthur and the Invisibles without David Bowie's evil Maltazard. Monsters University; so-so, not worth a second viewing.

Which leaves Escape from Planet Earth. Hardly mainstream, from a small Canadian outfit, and yet for originality and laughs streets ahead of the major studios and it seems to be the trend.

Apart from Disney's Wreck-It Ralph (Original idea, loved the character of Ralph) -- forget Brave (Which won the 2012 Oscar), The Lorax, Rise of the Guardians (Awful) -- the best animated comedy of 2012 was Tad the Lost Explorer put out by a Spanish company. Witty, fast-flowing, bad bad guys, and a great ending.

2011 was the year of Rango put out by Paramount (Oscar winner) and nothing could top that although for novelty and political incorrectness the Danish Ronal the Barbarian came close. 2010? Despicable 1 of course and Megamind and How to Train your Dragon, a good year spoilt only by more Toy Story (Inexplicable Oscar) and more Shrek. Shame isn't it? Shrek 1 was great, so much going on, so many jokes. Toy Story 1 fun. Why spoil a good thing by trotting out dreary sequels?

Butts on seats I suppose and before you ask, what are the most outstanding animated comedy features of the past few years according to Covington? In no particular order: Rango, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Incredibles, Max and Mary.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 16, 2013.


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