Sunday, July 7, 2013

Adoption Movie Guide: Despicable Me 2 - Gru as a Surprisingly Good Adoptive Dad

The Plot (spoilers ahead)
Former super-villain Gru has changed his colors. He has adopted Margo, Edith and Agnes, and has begun to put their needs in front of his own. Noting his newly-found ethics, the Anti-Villain League recruits Gru to go undercover to stop other villains. He signs up and goes along for the ride. Meanwhile, Margo becomes interested in boys, Edith thinks boys are gross, and Agnes wants a mom.

How is This Relevant to Adoption? 
In the first Despicable Me film, Margo, Edith and Agnes were adopted from a horrible orphanage; the director only cared about the girls’ ability to raise money for her program. When Gru adopted them, he was not carefully screened, and he intended to use them to help him commit villainy. I treated DespicableMe harshly in my review. But this film has done much better. It shows a single-parent adoptive family that has moved on with life; the girls know about their adoption, but they’ve resumed a fairly normal life. So has Gru – at least, his life is as normal as it can be for a Steve Carrell-voiced reformed supervillain. Gru acknowledges that his new fatherhood requires him to modify some parts of his life. Also, Agnes is required to recite a Mother’s Day poem for school; as she rehearses it with Gru, she explains, “I don’t even have a mom.” Her confusion – about not having a mom, and about being expected to participate in a school project that isn’t sensitive to her life circumstances – will connect with some viewers.

Strong Points
Gru has become much less selfish, and much less self-centered. He has become a good dad. He even dresses up as a fairy princess for his daughter’s birthday party. Not too many films feature single adoptive or foster dads. Two other good examples: Admission and Mr. Monk and the Kid.

Margo, Edith, and Agnes all appear to be thriving, and their life seems remarkably normal (for having Gru as their dad.)

The movie raises an interesting situation. Gru’s oldest daughter is starting to date. Gru is particularly overprotective. Are adoptive parents more or less likely to be overprotective when their children start dating, or would you expect there to be no direct connection? Weigh in with your thoughts.

 Weak Points

Gru notes that Agnes is having difficulty rehearsing her Mother’s Day lines. She explains, “I don’t even have a mom.” His advice is rushed, and a bit insensitive, “Well, you don’t need one to do the show. Use your imagination.” Agnes suggests that she can pretend she has a mom.


(agnes does get a mom by the end of the film.) 


This film is much better than its predecessor. Despicable Me 2 is a fun and enjoyable film that will probably appeal to kids in the same age group as Gru’s kids – probably about 4 to 12. While adoption themes are not overt in this film (as they were in the first), they are handled much more healthily. This one is worth seeing.

Questions for Discussion after the movie

What makes Gru a good dad?

How do you think Gru is doing at letting Margo date? Is he too protective? Not protective enough?

How do you think Agnes felt when she was rehearsing her lines? What school projects have felt that way for you?

What could Gru have told Agnes when she seemed sad about not having a mom?

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  1. I love Gru in the role as over-protective dad. He reminds me of what my husband is going to be like in about 10 years when my Poppy is old enough to start noticing boys. And dressing up like a fairy for Agnes' birthday party? Totally. Awesome.

    Every little girl needs a dad who will go to such lengths for her, adopted or not.

    1. Hi! I think you're right about Gru - in the first film, he was so selfish - but by the sequel, he has become an excellent dad!


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