A peek at Steve Carell's animated flick Despicable Me!

I'm a total sucker for animated flicks. Last year's UP and CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS blew me away. So I was super excited to get a chance to check out a preview of the upcoming flick DESPICABLE ME at Illumination Entertainment in Santa Monica last week and speak to producer Chris Meledandri. If you've read any of my work, you know about my quest for minions. The fact that this film has them sold me right away. (They're adorable...I want a stuffed one right this very moment.) The film has a pretty stellar cast, including Steve Carrell as Gru, the world's number two villain (an unfortunate title) who is won over by three little orphan girls. It's also got Jason Segal, Kristin Wiig, Will Arnett, Danny McBride, Russell Brand, Jack McBrayer, Dame Julie Andrews and my favorite of all time, Ken Jeong.

We got to check out three clips, the first beginning with one of the trailers. Ugly American tourists in Egypt stop watching their beast of a child for a moment and he bounces off what is supposed to be one of the pyramids of Giza. Except it's not. The real one has been stolen an replaced by a pyramid blow up doll. (Sorry, but anything inflatable makes me say that.) Not good news for the number two villain. He's been outdone. This grouchy old man with stick legs (going to be hard to get an action figure to stand up) who pops the balloons of children and threatens to kill his neighbor's dog for pooping on his lawn calls a meeting of his scores of little minions to plan his next heist. Under his house (the only creepy one on the block) is a vast underground cavern filled with the little yellow dudes. He seems to know each of them by name (our first clue that he isn't such a baaad villain). And to this little yellow audience, Gru reveals that his next big heist will be to steal the moon! (He's shrinking it. More portable that way.)

The sequence was quick moving and funny. Really, really funny. Particularly the scene in the coffee shop. Gru wants his latte and he wants it now. Lines are annoying. So, he pulls out his freeze ray and blasts the hell out of the other patrons. I want one! So convenient for trips to the DMV. (Also of note was the fact that Gru shows a video of the Times Square JumboTron with a giant NBC logo on top. Nothing subtle here. If you're going to do some self-promotion, do it big! Cracked me the hell up.)

Next up was Gru trying to break into the home of his rival, the young villain Vector (Jason Segal), who, while playing video games, manages to destroy Gru's every attempt to the tune of “It's Not Unusual”. It reminded me of TOM AND JERRY cartoons. No reality, just funny. People get smushed, pounded, flattened, etc. and pop right back up for another shot.

But the segment that really got me (and yes, I have my gushy moments) was the one where Gru starts to fall for the three little orphan girls who are looking at him as a potential dad. He needs them for his plan, but after a day at the amusement park (and a damn funny cameo from Jack McBrayer) he begins the melting process. He's starting to care about them. And when they make him read them a bedtime story from a kitten book that requires him to use little kitty finger puppets, the entire room said, 'aww'. Adorable. I mean, adorable like little bunny rabbits cheering for baby dogs in the Puppy Bowl. At this point, with all the technology we've got, anyone can do an animated flick. But the thing that always gets me in the end is the heart. And from what I saw, DESPICABLE ME has a ton.

One thing really stuck out from the conversation we had with Meledandri...what he had to say about the marketing. There have been three trailers now, and from what we've seen there, you really have no idea that the film is about his relationship with the girls. And I suppose you have to decide which way you want to play it. Do you give away the entire thing in the trailer (a giant, monster-sized pet peeve of mine) or do you hope that people come see it because of the little bit you let slip? 'The truth is that every marketing campaign is a series of discoveries in and of themselves because you'd like to say, we had this grand design and it all worked out...I still am a big fan, generally speaking of discovery marketing...I very much prefer that the audience is saying, 'That's kind of interesting. I like it. What the hell is it?' I'd rather them say that. Especially early on...but it's a fine line.' I wholeheartedly agree. Really looking forward to this one. And I hope they sell that kitten book. Because I want to buy it for my niece. Sniff.

Source: JoBlo.com



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