Despicable Me: This Film Isn't Supposed to Make Sense, So Just Sit Back and Enjoy the Madness
"Despicable Me" (2010), directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud for Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment, is a 3D animation film based on an original story by Sergio Pablos. It is about a super-villain who competes with another villain, Vector, to see who can be the biggest and baddest villain. There is a sequel, "Despicable Me 2," due out July 2013.
Gru (Steve Carrell) sees his coveted claim to being the worst villain in the world put in jeopardy when a young rival, Vector (Jason Segal) (one suspects there is more to their relationship than just being enemies), steals the Great Pyramid of Giza. Gru decides to up the ante by stealing the moon and shrinking it. To do this, he needs a loan from the Bank of Evil (aren't they all?), but the bank requires that he obtain a shrink ray first.
|Gru is always watching|
So, Gru steals a shrink ray from a secret base in Asia, but Vector finds out what Gru is up to and steals it from him and hides it in his impenetrable fortress. Gru is stumped until he sees three orphan girls - Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Kate Fisher) - walk right in to sell Vector some cookies. He works out a way to adopt the girls, which is successful, but has trouble taking care of them.
|Gru and his family|
The girls fulfil their function, however, and Gru manages to steal the shrink ray back. He goes back to the back, but it again turns him down, telling him it wants a younger villain. After getting the idea from the girls, he decides to sell some of his belongings to finance the moon theft. The girls get in the way of the plan because of their ballet recital, so the go back to the orphanage.
Gru manages to steal the moon, but then finds out that Vector has kidnapped the girls, demanding the shrunken moon in exchange. Vector double-crosses Gru and takes both the moon and the girls, but Gru rescues them as Vector continues on with the moon inside his spaceship, little realizing the danger of what he is doing.
|Gru has what he wants!|
Clearly, this is a high concept animated film. Several books are related to the film, and are rated for preschool and junior readers. There also is a video game on the major platforms. Universal used its television station NBC to market the film, and it became a big hit, taking in $543 million worldwide.
|Gru getting frustrated|
Despite all the weird plot points, this is a charming, family-friendly film. It is a very slapstick-oriented, suspend-your-disbelief-and-go-with-it type of affair. In that sense, it is reminiscent of the old Road Runner and Coyote cartoons. You never know what is going to happen next, because you are in a bizarre world where people are motivated by things completely alien to us. But the eternal values endure: Gru may be a villain, but he is a kind-hearted one who only wants to be a winner and accepted as such.
|Gru and Minions|
The key threshold, though, is that you have to somehow care about these characters. Steve Carrell is a very amiable character actor, and many people know him from his television show or films like "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." However, he adopts a very heavy Russian accent for the role and is not very recognizable. If you are older than elementary school, you may have difficulty caring whether his character manages to steal the moon and do the other weird things he has in mind. You also might not find whoopee-cushion type humor your style. Then again, if you are in the right frame of mind, you could be 60 and still enjoy this kind of innocent comedy, especially if you are watching it with children who appreciate it.
|Steve Carrell at the Premiere|
A sequel is scheduled for July 3, 2013. The major characters will still be played by the same voice actors, with Al Pacino coming on board as Gru's new nemesis. The quality of the 3D computer-generated animation is impeccable, and the story has an internal logic and consistency that at least keeps it understandable. More so than most films, if you want to be entertained, it will entertain you; if you are resistant (wanted to see "Puss in Boots" instead but it was sold out, etc.), then this most definitely is NOT the film for you.
|It's wacky, but fun|
Since pre-schoolers tend to be open to fantastical stories, this is perfect for the youngest members of the household while the adults go off and watch "The Office" or "Little Miss Sunshine" or something else that Carrell is known for.
|Taking the Great Pyramid|
Great entertainment for kids. all others need to want to watch what is essentially a children's flick. "Despicable Me" was followed up by the 2013 "Despicable Me 2," and you may read my full review of that smash hit here.
You may watch the trailer below.
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