PRESUMABLY, you're reading this because you have children and would like some advance warning about just how insufferable your weekend is going to be. Over a half-dozen half-viewings across custody weekends, you've come to know the ins and outs of the first Despicable Me film—from its inexplicable voice cast (chiefly Steve Carell's phoned-in faux-Russian lead character) to its relentless, exhausting series of violent sight gags and charmless laughs. So what should you expect this weekend, after dropping a significant portion of your daily wage at the cineplex, for scarcely a moment's reprieve? I don't know... it's probably fine? You probably hoped that your children would have more discerning tastes than fart jokes and merciless cartoon violence by now, but kids are dumb and the worst, and it's literally going to make $500,000,000 regardless of what anybody says, so whatevs?
Perhaps more interestingly: While there's a host of complaints an alarmist adult might make against the ultimately harmless Despicable Me 2 (racism and cynical laziness among them), what's most striking about the movie is its relentless violence—a violence that borrows liberally from the Looney Tunes school of cartoon physics. In one particularly dubious scene, Carell's protagonist is saved from an annoying blind date (voiced by Kristen Schaal) by shooting her in the ass with a tranquilizer dart, slumping her limp body through a series of painful pratfalls, strapping her onto the roof of a car, and then depositing her onto her porch in a lifeless heap. Not to be the guy who turns a review of a children’s movie into a soapbox about violence against women, but there’s something truly unsettling about the sequence. I think what's so disconcerting is that the scene steps its toes into a new kind of uncanny valley—one where the time-honored (and awesome) tradition of cartoon violence meets the increasingly human physics of contemporary animation. Basically: At what point does a cartoon world's exhaustive digital realism cross the point where cartoon violence is just, you know, violence?