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25 Movies to See Before the Oscars: 13. Despicable Me 2

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Nominations: Animated Feature, Original Song

DreamWorks Animation has been playing second fiddle to Pixar for as long as AMPAS has had the Best Animated Feature category (seven wins versus two) – but the mighty bouncing lamp is shockingly not represented in the category this year. In fact, DreamWorks has two films up for the win, The Croods and Despicable Me 2. While it’s confusing as to why the former made it in while Monsters University did not (it got way more love from the critics), the latter is not such a mysterious entry. It is the sequel to incredibly inventive Despicable Me, about an Eastern-European Uncle-Fester-looking dude named Gru voiced by the ever-so-inventive Steve Carrell. The sequel though does not follow Gru in some dastardly and miscalculated plan to do something very, very supervillain-y this time, which is its major pitfall.

Now that Gru is a father to three little girls his life is very different: he stands in as a Fairy Princess at birthday parties and now has his minions producing grape jelly instead of odd villain weapons. This time he is a good guy – hired by the Anti-Villain League to track the new evil mastermind that has stolen some secret machine that will do bad things in the wrong hands. So Gru tracks down the would-be villain Eduardo, a Mexican restaurant owner who may or may not be a baddie named El Macho. Benjamin Bratt stepped in to voice Eduardo after Al Pacino dropped out, but not to worry because Bratt’s version works like gangbusters, sinking his teeth into the absurd accent and giving the movie the ludicrous element that Gru no longer gives sans criminal modus operandi. He does find time to use his freeze ray though, this time turning eldest daughter Margo’s crush and Eduardo’s son Antonio into a raging-hormones ice cube.

All of the other players are present for the Animated Feature prize: Disney has it’s box office smash Frozen in the fight, Hayao Miyazaki’s farewell from filmmaking The Wind Rises is present, and there’s an adorable French film about a forbidden friendship between a bear and a mouse respectively named Ernest & Celestine. But Despicable Me 2 has one thing that none of those movies have: those googly-eyed, yellow-marshmallow minions – well, that and an incredibly fun and hip original song from Pharrell Williams. Frozen, with all the money it’s brought in and well-timed theatrical release of the sing-along version of the film in theaters could edge Despicable Me 2 out, but both films are completely kid-centric with little give for adult allowances…who ever wins, wins.

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