Australian Council on Children and the Media

Despicable Me 2

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Not recommended under 6, PG to 8 (Violence; Scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Despicable Me 2
  • a review of Despicable Me 2 completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 20 June 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 6-8 parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 8 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Despicable Me 2
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild animated violence
Length 98 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Despicable Me 2 opens with a top-secret research laboratory in the Antarctic being stolen by a giant flying magnet that sucks the laboratory up into the air and whisks it away. The film then cuts to reformed super-villain Gru (voice of Steve Carell), who now uses his talents to keep his three adopted daughters, Margo (voice of Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (voice of Dana Gaier) and Agnes (voice of Elsie Kate) entertained. Gru’s legion of yellow minions are also taking on babysitting and house cleaning duties and helping Gru develop his legitimate business - a new line of delicious jams and jellies.

Gru’s new life is turned upside down when he is kidnapped by secret agent Lucy Wilde (voice of Kristen Wiig), who whisks him away for a meeting with Silas Ramsbottom (voice of Steve Coogan), the head of the Anti-Villain League. Silas informs Gru that a top-secret serum which can transform cute little rabbits into ferocious monsters has been stolen from a research lab in the Antarctic by an as yet unknown super-villain. The serum is believed to be hidden somewhere in a shopping mall with the super-villain responsible masquerading as one of the shop owners. Silas wants Gru to team up with agent Lucy Wild and go undercover as owners of a cupcakes shop, with Gru using his skills to determine which shop owner is the super-villain and then recover the serum.


It doesn’t take Gru long to recognise the owner of a Mexican restaurant, a man called Eduardo (voice of Benjamin Bratt) as the super-villain El Macho.  El Macho’s master plan involves stealing Gru’s minions and using them for his own evil purposes. It is up to Gru and Lucy to stop El Macho and save the minions.   

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Super-villains; family relationships

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Despicable Me 2 contains frequent over-the-top cartoon style slapstick violence and peril but no death, injury or blood and gore. Younger children may imitate some of the violence. Examples include:

  • A giant flying magnet sucks up an entire research laboratory along with numerous workers. We see workers, equipment, machinery and a portable toilet cubicle flying through the air as they are sucked up into the aircraft.
  • At a children’s birthday party young children wear warrior costumes and wield inflatable weapons, running around hitting each other over the head and body. One young boy is hit over the head, bursts into tears and runs off.
  • A young child holds a balloon in his mouth and a second child wielding a chain saw is about to cut the balloon when an adult intervenes and stops him.
  • Gru tries to incapacitate Lucy Wild with a freeze gun and Lucy retaliates by shooting him with a lipstick Taser, knocking him out. Lucy drags Gru’s unconscious body by his legs to her car, nearly runs him over when she reverses and then squashes him into the boot of the car.
  • In a flashback scene El Macho, in a fit of rage, grabs a man by the head and throws him across a room.  We then see El Macho tied to a massive shark with sticks of dynamite strapped to his body. He plummets out of a plane and into a volcano which then explodes.
  • A chicken attacks Gru, pecking his head and groin, and then bursting out of his shirt front.
  • When El Macho discovers someone searching his shop at night he says, “Someone’s going to die tonight” and we see him holding a large knife in a threatening manner.
  • When Gru attempts to sneak into El Macho’s secret headquarters he sets off an array of booby traps, including flame throwers, axes and needle-like darts. By the time Gru has passed all the booby traps he has a soot-covered face and has several darts sticking out of him including one through his nose.
  • Lucy is strapped to a shark on a rocket loaded with dynamite and aimed at a smoking volcano.  El Macho threatens to launch the rocket and kill Lucy. We see Gru frantically trying to cut Lucy free before the rocket is launched, but the rocket launches with Gru hanging on. Gru manages to free Lucy in mid flight.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, particularly in the 3D version. They include:

  • Several scenes of creatures, including white rabbits, a minion and El Macho himself, being injected with serum and transforming into purple monsters with ferocious teeth.  After his transformation, El Macho goes on a rampage before being shot with a Taser. 
  • A brief cartoon x-ray image of a woman’s skeleton and internal organs.  

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Younger children in this age group may also be scared by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be scared by anything in this film.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

None of concern, but some associated merchandise.

Sexual references

Despicable Me 2 contains occasional low-level romantic suggestions and inferences. Examples include:

  • In one scene a very persistent women flirts with Gru. 
  • In several scenes Gru’s daughters encourage him to go dating.
  • A woman who mistakenly thinks a man slapped her on her bottom, slaps him across the face.
  • Gru’s daughter Margo flirts with a boy, saying, “He’s so cool”
  • Margo uses her phone to text a message to a boy. A worried looking Gru asks his other daughters if Margo is texting a girl or a boy. 

 

Nudity and sexual activity

The film contains some mild romantic activity and comical cartoon nudity. Examples include:

  • Gru’s three daughters fill out an on-line dating form for Gru, picking out a picture of Gru in a tight swim suit to attach to the dating form.
  • One of Gru’s minions imagines running with Lucy on a beach and offering her wine.  As he is leaning forward to kiss Lucy on the lips, he is woken from his daydream.
  • In one scene El Macho rips open his shirt to reveal a naked hairy chest with a Mexican flag tattoo.   
  • El Macho dances the tango with Lucy, swirling her around the dance floor and telling her that he is “free on Tuesdays”.
  • A number of female characters wear tight fitting dresses.           
  • One of the film’s final scenes depicts Gru and Lucy being married and we see them kiss.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • In one scene a woman who is on a date with Gru at a restaurant is suddenly rendered unconscious and falls face first into her dinner. Lucy appears and tells Gru that she shot the woman with tranquiliser
  • In a flashback scene we see El Macho putting rattle snake venom into a glass containing alcohol and drinking it.
  • The minions behave in an intoxicated manner while eating ice-cream and lollies at a party as if on a drunken binge. A number of the minions pass out.      
  • We see a rabbit, some of Gru’s minions and El Macho injected with mutation serum.

Coarse language

Despicable Me 2 contains some mild name calling and toilet humour. Examples include:

  • “sheep’s butt”, “are you out of your gourd?”, “ they stink”
  • Gru’s daughter tells a female caller on the phone that Gru is “pooping”
  • the minions have ‘fart guns’ that shoot thick brown smoke

In a nutshell

Despicable Me 2 is an animated family comedy, full of clever humour and likely to appeal to both school-age children and adults.  The film brings back most of the main characters from the first Despicable Me film as well as a host of new ones. Children under 6 may be scared by some of the violence and by scenes of creatures transforming into monsters after being injected by serum. These are more intense in the 3D version.

The film promotes the importance of family and having a life partner. Gru continuously demonstrates his love for his children through his willingness to place their needs over his own and his constant care for them.   

Parents may wish to discuss the pre-teen romance and flirting behaviour shown between Margo and her boyfriend.

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