Tag Archives: Steve Carell

Movie Review: Despicable Me 2

I saw the original “Despicable Me” a number of years ago as a rental at a friend’s house. I remember that I enjoyed the movie, but I don’t remember many of the details: only that the main character, the arch-villain, Gru, had a grand scheme to steal the moon. That, and he turned out to be a decent guy because he started to raise three young girls. “Despicable Me 2” takes up where “Despicable Me” left off. Gru (Steve Carell) is now raising the young girls and has given up his life of crime to try his hand at business (he makes really bad jams and jellies). But he is neither fit for nor destined for the life of a common businessman. It is not long before he encounter Lucy (Kristen Wiig) from the AVL (Anti-Villain League). She captures him and drags him off to a meeting with the AVL. They want to recruit him to help them recapture a powerful chemical that transforms living creatures into horrible monsters. At first, he says no, but eventually he comes around and agrees to the mission.

 

The story is pretty basic from there: Gru and Lucy are assigned to work together to reclaim the secret chemical compound. They investigate a mall. After a few misadventures, Gru identifies the culprit. Unfortunately, this evil super-villain takes Lucy hostage and Gru is forced to brave his fortress where he has assembled a virtual army of indestructible monsters harvested from Gru’s own vast collection of minions. I’ll leave the rest to surprise the reader.

 

Strengths: I always enjoy a good kid’s movie. The animation was good. The characters were cute, humorous, and likeable. The storyline held together; there were no logical flaws that I saw on a first viewing, and things were wrapped up nicely. Weaknesses: My biggest complaint with the movie was some of the crude humor. For example, there was a fart gun. It’s hardly a big issue, but, really, I’ve noticed in a number of kid’s movies that we have been reduced to entertaining our children with references to noisome bodily functions. Can’t they come up with something a little more … I don’t know, wholesome, maybe. Must we act like kids to entertain our kids? There were also a couple of veiled sexual references that kids wouldn’t get, but adults would. I suppose it’s supposed to be adult humor, but to me it strikes me more like adolescent humor. Again, can’t we do better? Can’t we do something that is actually clever? That said, those were minor weaknesses. Another weakness was that for some reason or other, the story just didn’t grip me too much. I usually enjoy kid’s movies, but this one was lacking something, I just don’t know what.

 

Overall, I’ll give it three, maybe three and a half, stars out of five.

Movie Review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is Hollywood’s latest magician movie. It’s been a while since we were wowed by “The Prestige” and “The Illusionist,” so apparently director Jay Roach wanted to get a new take on magicians. Unlike the aforementioned 2006 films, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is intended as a comedy. To that end, it has billed both Steve Carell and Jim Carrey, two of the bigger names in comedy. It also stars Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, and Alan Arkin.

 

The central character in the story is Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) one-half of a famous duo of stage magicians in Las Vegas. His partner is Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi). Together they make one of the biggest acts in Vegas. At least, in the beginning. But then, sales start to decline. An up and coming unorthodox magician by the name of Steve Grey (Jim Carrey) a.k.a. “The Brain Rapist” is threatening to capsize their operation. They have to come up with a new act, and fast. But their first idea is a disaster. So much so, they wind up dissolving their partnership. From there, the story follows Burt Wonderstone and his decline into desperation, the subsequent reshaping of his character, and his eventual reunion with Anton Marvelton leading to their collaboration on the greatest trick in magical history. There is also a love-interest angle in the story, a young assistant illusionist named Jane (Olivia Wilde), but I won’t delve into that here as it follows pretty much the standard patterns.

 

Strengths: the movie successfully showed the evolution of Burt Wonderstone’s character from self-centered, egotistical, schmuck to a reasonably decent human being who even wins the girl in the end. It was also good for a few laughs. Jim Carrey had some classic moments, particularly at the end. Weaknesses: well, although the movie was billed as a comedy and it had access to the talents of both Carrey and Carell, it wasn’t quite as funny as I hoped it would be. Like I said, there were a few moments, but not enough, in my opinion. Also, Burt Wonderstone started off as such a jerk, I didn’t think he deserved to win the girl (not that he had any competitors) in the movie. It was just silly Hollywood being stupid following the standard: boy meets girl, boy is jerk, girl is repulsed, boy reforms, and girl falls in love. Whatever.

 

Although the movie was decent, there were no great moments. Nothing that had me laughing to tears. Overall, I’ll give it three and a half out of five stars.