Review: Despicable Me
Plot: A super-villain (Steve Carrell), intent on shrinking and stealing the moon, finds himself distracted by three orphaned sisters, who end up in his care.
Review: DESPICABLE ME is a pretty damn charming little CG-animated film that borrows a lot from the Pixar playbook. In some ways, it's almost like a reverse version of THE INCREDIBLES, with this focusing on the exploits of a super-villain, rather than superhero. Steve Carell's Gru is obviously patterned heavily on Dr. Evil from the AUSTIN POWERS films (who was in turn based on Donald Pleasance's take on Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the classic Bond flick, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE), with him sporting a bald pate, and an eastern-European accent.
Of course, being a kids movie, Gru's not all that much in the way of a super villain, and all of his schemes tend to be markedly free of any loss of life. Really, he's just a lonely guy bitter at his disapproving mother (Julie Andrews of all people), and prone to flights of fancy. Helping him on his not so much evil, as mischievous schemes, is his very own Q- style weapons specialist (voiced by an almost unrecognizable Russell Brand, who eschews his regular Cockney for a more refined accent), and an army of cute yellow minions, that speak in gibberish, and had the audience I saw this with in stitches.
Surprisingly, Gru actually doesn't have any superhero arch-nemesis, with him being pitted against another wannabe supervillian, the nerdy Vector- voiced by Jason Segal (who does a great job, and, like Brand, is almost unrecognizable). Vector also wants to steal the moon, and competes with with Gru to seek financing from the Bank of Evil (formerly Lehman Brothers- which got a good laugh fro the adults in the theatre).
Of course, a la Pixar, Gru's really a big softee, and once the lovable orphans come into his life, it's only a matter of time before they melt his heart of stone. While this could have been corny and maudlin, it's done in a fairly effective way. Despite the fact I knew exactly where DESPICABLE ME was going, I found it surprisingly moving.
As Gru, Steve Carell is Steve Carell, which is either a good thing or a bad thing these days (love the guy, but haven't enjoyed his movies since DAN IN REAL LIFE). Luckily, he's pretty effective as Gru, as he pulls off the stereotypical Wuro-pean accent with panache, without sounding too much like a Dr. Evil clone. The rest of the voice cast is excellent, although every single scene is stolen by the yellow minions, who'll likely get some kind of spin-off if this film does well.
I have a feeling this might make big bucks when it comes out, as the audience I saw this with gave it a hearty round of applause afterwards. Besides a couple of overly sappy songs from Pharell, and some (groan) 3D, DESPICABLE ME is a fun little CGI animated comedy. While it doesn't quite reach the same heights as TOY STORY 3, it's a rock solid family flick that won't bore parents to tears, and can also double as a suitable date flick.