Old 07-09-2010, 12:00 AM
Pierre Coffin's and Chris Renaud's Despicable Me

Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:



Despicable Me (2010)

In a summer that's been dominated by Pixar's "Toy Story 3" comes a smaller animated film entitled "Despicable Me" that was barely even on my radar before I attended the screening. I expected another short, simple kids' film with a few jokes and maybe a few loud noises to keep the children interested, but to my surprise, it ended up being much more than that.

It tells the story of a supervillain named Gru (Voice of Steve Carell), who has accomplished many things in his time as a villain including stealing the jumbotron screen from Times Square. His latest plan involves stealing the moon itself, but to accomplish this, he first needs to get possession of a shrink ray in order to get a loan from the Bank of Evil. However, during his attempt to steal the shrink ray, another villain, Vector (Voice of Jason Segel), steals it from him.

Things seem quite bad as Gru tries to break into Vector’s fortress to get the shrink ray back, but then he notices how easily three orphan girls are able to get inside while selling cookies. Gru quickly formulates a plan in which he'll adopt the girls and use them to get inside the fortress. He continues on with his plan to steal the moon, but slowly comes to realize that he's growing attached to the girls and they to him as they hope they've finally found a new home.

One of the best things to appreciate about "Despicable Me" is just how funny it is. It has consistent laughs throughout, but the humor isn't directed at any group in particular. I was laughing constantly as were all the kids and adults alike. The filmmakers didn't try to insult the audience by making the humor lowbrow, but instead proved that much funnier jokes can be made from the simple situations that these characters are placed in.

The other thing to appreciate about this movie is the level of emotion they are able to squeeze into it. You would think a film that has a plot about an evil supervillain trying to steal the moon wouldn't have much room for such a thing, but amazingly, it becomes quite touching in scenes in which Gru begins to bond with the girls.

The animation is most similar to another recent animated film, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs." It's not particularly realistic animation along the lines of Pixar, but it does a good job for the kind of story that the filmmakers are trying to tell. The story itself is quite entertaining as it breezes along at a quick pace and yet it still manages to make you care about the characters.

The voice-acting from Steve Carell was rather interesting. At first, his choice of voice seemed slightly annoying, but it slowly grows on you as the character is developed. Other voice talent includes Jason Segel as the spunky Vector, who is trying to become the next big supervillain after stealing the pyramids at Gaza, Russell Brand as Dr. Nefario, assistant to Gru, who provides some great comedic spots, and even a really quick turn from Julie Andrews as Gru's mother.

This particular screening of "Despicable Me" was presented in 3-D, but it ended up not adding very much to the film at all. I've never really seen the point of making a film in 3-D that's not going to utilize the technology along the lines of "Avatar" or "Alice in Wonderland" in which the environment is made more substantially immersive. There doesn't seem to be much of a point in making a film in 3-D just to have random objects poke out at the audience.

By the time it was over, I had been completely surprised by this little animated film that seemed to come out of nowhere. It's hilarious, has a lot of heart, and has a great story to go along with it. It's one of those films that is able to entertain audiences of all ages. What more could kids and parents ask for? 3.5/4 stars.
Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump