Year 8, Day 7 - 1/7/16 - Movie #2,207
BEFORE: Great news, I found out that TCM has released their February screening schedule, which is their "31 Days of Oscar" programming (yes, it extends into March, but only by two days this year). And once again, they've adopted the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" format, meaning that like my chains, each film will share an actor with the film before it and the one after it. Perhaps I'll report on each day's TCM programming, just to make note of which films I've already seen, which ones I'm adding to the watchlist, and what the connections are. After a couple years of them scheduling films by such arbitrary categories as story location and year released (ugh, how common...) it's nice to see a return to clever organization. Plus, I may have copied them, but now I can say they're copying ME.
Linking from "Foxcatcher", this should be fairly obvious, Steve Carell carries over.
FOLLOW-UP TO: "Despicable Me" (Movie #1,102)
THE PLOT: Gru, the world's most super-bad turned super-dad has been recruited by a team of officials to stop lethal muscle and a host of Gru's own. He has to fight back with new gadgetry, cars, and more minion madness.
AFTER: Yes, I realize how jarring it is to go from a tense sports drama like "Foxcatcher" to a silly CGI film made for kids, but honestly after two days of dark subject matter, I could use something silly. I'll take the opportunity to cross off a few animated films in a row, because really, it's the same voice-over actors popping up in these things again and again, as you will see.
The first "Despicable Me" film showed Gru's acts of villainy, like shrinking and stealing the moon, but ended with him adopting three young girls that were part of his scheme. The sequel picks up after he's given up his evil ways and trying to be a good single parent, meanwhile deflecting all attempts by neighbors to set him up with their single female friends. We later learn that Gru suffers from a fear of rejection, traced back to his first failed attempts at dating when he was young.
At the same time, he's contacted by the Anti-Villain League, an sort of international spy organization, and recruited to track down a missing serum in a mall - the theory being that it takes an ex-villain to think like a villain and track down another villain. He's paired with a female agent, Lucy Wilde, in a fake bakery with a punny name, and it doesn't take an evil genius to see that romance could bloom in such close quarters.
One of the store-owners at the mall bears an uncanny resemblance to someone he once knew back in his villainous days, but that person was thought dead, and in that line of work, hardly anyone ever fakes their own death or pulls off daring last-minute escapes. Things get further complicated when one of Gru's daughters starts to notice boys, and the possible villain has a son who's her same age.
Meanwhile, Gru's minions start mysteriously disappearing...if only everyone weren't so busy with the spy operations, they might take a minute to notice. What could possibly be happening to them? And can we possibly pad out the film to 90 minutes without them?
I'm not sure why, in this imaginary James Bond-meets-The Incredibles Universe (or maybe it's Austin Powers-meets-Megamind) that all of the women seen are really skinny with toothpick-like legs, and all the men are practically round. What sort of message are we sending out to the kids, that women need to be skinny, but men don't need to care about their weight? That's not healthy in the long run, for either of them.
Also starring the voices of Kristen Wiig (last heard in "Her"), Benjamin Bratt (last seen in "Red Planet"), Russell Brand (last seen in "Rock of Ages"), Miranda Cosgrove (last heard in "Despicable Me"), Steve Coogan (last seen in "Ruby Sparks"), Ken Jeong (last seen in "Rapture-Palooza"), Elsie Fisher, Dana Gaier, Moises Arias, with cameos from Nasim Pedrad, Kristen Schaal (last seen in "The Muppets").
RATING: 6 out of 10 fart guns