Despicable Me

27 Jul

Title: Despicable Me
Year: 2010
Directors: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Writers: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul
Starring: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher, Ken Jeong, Danny McBride, Jack McBrayer, Mindy Kaling, Jemaine Clement
MPAA Rating: PG, rude humor and mild action
Runtime: 95 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%

Despicable Me is a pretty damn amazing animated film, it’s no Toy Story 3, but it is better than How to Train Your Dragon, and even though it does borrow quite a bit from the Pixar playbook it does so in a pretty smart way, and that’s what this film is, a smart one, and it’s one that by being like that will play incredibly well not only to the kids which will no doubt devour this one, especially because of the Minions which they love so much, but this one will also play great to the parents of the kids, because this one’s genuinely funny, and that’s the thing it takes from Pixar the most, that it plays just as well to the more mature audiences.

It helps that it’s voicecast is so damn amazing, Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand and Kristen Wiig play four of the main characters, and they’re three of the funniest people in America and one of the funniest ones in the UK, and what they do with their voices is pretty cool, especially the accent Mr. Carell invented for his character, Gru, which he describes as a cross between Ricardo Montalban and Bela Lugosi, I thought that was pretty genius. Now, I didn’t see this one in 3D, but I’m hearing that technology in this one really isn’t that bad at all, I’m obviously skeptical about that because 3D hasn’t been great in these films, and particularly horrible as of late and just makes everything darker, and I’m sure I’d much prefer the 2D version I saw to the 3D one, but at least they aren’t criticizing the third dimensional technology much with this one, some even saying the animators did some pretty amusing stuff with it.

The idea of the movie is pretty cool, too, it starts by telling us that villains are much more fascinating than heroes, and that’s pretty much always right, look at The Dark Knight a couple years ago, the Joker was way better than Batman, Hannibal Lecter was cooler than Clarice Starling, the shark in Jaws was much more fascinating than Martin Brody, that’s just how it goes, the villain is much more interesting and complex than the hero, there’s another animated film coming out this year, Megamind, that presents the scenario of a villain finally winning over the good guy, so yes, villains apparently are all the rage nowadays, and Gru, the main character in Despicable Me is a villain who can freeze people with a gun and just plain wants to be known as the Greatest Villain of All-Time.

Gru is a cool character, his hidden lair is located at his basement and his mother, voiced by Julie Andrews, is constantly getting on his case. But as always, and more so in a kid-oriented film, there has to be a hero, and even if Gru is technically a villain he is made out to look like the good villain while Vector, his villain rival, is sort of the villain in a villain movie. Vector, you see, just stole the Great Pyramid, and has pretty much upstaged Gru as the best villain there is, and he is voiced by Jason Segel, who as usual is pretty awesome.

Now, you might ask, just how does Despicable Me manages to so successfully turn Gru from a villain into a guy who we end up liking and cheering on? That’s simple, firstly there are the aforementioned Minions, which are these little yellow creatures with one or two bespectacled eyes who are just so much fun, they are Gru’s little minions who just live to cheer him on and help where they can and just be plain fun, these little guys are truly one of the best parts of the films in terms of just how much fun kids will have with them, the marketing campaign intelligently designed many posters which just featured the Minions and the kids responded in huge numbers, since this film, with just 18 days in release has already banked $182 million, which is pretty damn good.

Anyways, the Minions are part of the reason why Gru was such a great villain that everyone could actually cheer for, and the other reason was that, as you might have guessed, Gru actually did have a heart, and that’s discovered when he takes three kids from an orphanage, that’s ran by Kristen Wiig’s character, to live with him and he would then have them infiltrate Vector’s lair posing as something only kids can pose as, but then obviously by being in their company for so long Gru himself starts caring about these three little kids, and that’s when the film shows it’s true sweet side, and it’s tremendous at that, it gets us to care for a villain just as much as we would care for a good guy, and it gets kids to do the same in tremendous amounts, and that’s just truly a job well done by the folks at Universal.

After Despicable Me ended it’s first weekend in release Universal greenlit a sequel to come in 2013, and I’m actually quite excited about this one, I think it’ll be great to see Gru and his Dr. Nefasto, which is the Russell Brand character that designs the cool gadgets he uses, and his Minions back on the screen, and more than that I think it’s cool that Universal with this one has now declared itself a major player in the animation field, and even though it’s obviously no Pixar, is definitely right up there with Dreamworks, and that works for me, and that they have such a good film and apparent franchise to build on is only, I would assume, the start of some good things to come for that branch of the studio, so yes, Despicable Me was a true winner to my eyes, and though the wait till 2013 won’t kill me I’ll definitely be first in line to check out the sequel.

Grade: A-

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