Review: Despicable Me

Dark, fun, jaw-dropping animation eye-candy that may be evil and despicable but it also provides a warm, action-filled 90 minutes at the movie theatre…I just would have liked a little more connection to the characters, but just a little.

First-time directors (at least I’m calling them that because they really haven’t done much) make a hell of an impression making us love to be evil. Hey, it’s been a while since I could recommend a Steve Carell movie.

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THE SETUP:
Gru (Steve Carell) is the world’s best super villain, or rather he was. His schemes aren’t what they use to be and now young upstarts like Vector (Jason Segel) are taking over the spotlight. So Gru decides, with the help of his minions and evil scientist Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), to get a loan from the Bank of Evil in order to execute the biggest crime in history – stealing the Moon. Unfortunately, Gru’s scheme involves three orphans, Margo, Edith and Agnes, who aren’t so easily removed from his life. How’s a super villain suppose to reach maximum evilness with a pack of cute kids? That’s the movie.

THE THOUGHTS:
It’s dark. It’s eye-popping in its vivid detail. It’s fun. It’s definitely worth watching.

You can tell all the lead actors had a blast voicing the characters of Despicable Me because all were against type. Russell Brand as an ancient evil scientist? Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins dammit!) as a disapproving, karate-loving old crone? Jason Segel as a nerdy, tracksuit-wearing villain with a love of firearms that shoot sea life? Good times. The voicing was great, especially from Carell who really took Gru and ran with it…a voicing combination of what he calls a cross between Ricardo Montalban and Bela Lugosi. Each character was distinct and you did feel for Gru and his connection with the three orphans.

Since Avatar, there have been a lot of movies jumping on the 3-D bandwagon, for better or for worse (worse being Clash of the Titans and Alice in Wonderland). This movie was definitely in the “for better” category. Not only did the computer graphics look amazing but they really took advantage of the 3-D technology. Please sit through the credits or you’ll miss the minions stretch that 3-D barrier. I have to mention again how vivid the detail was. I must have remarked 2 or 3 times at how impressed I was. (I remarked to myself because it would be annoying if I kept saying it to someone else).

Two things I hate when it comes to animated movies: overly cute kids and forced dance numbers. For this movie, the former wasn’t a problem but the later could have done with out. Sorry, it’s just annoying.

There are a few dark moments…well dark for a G-rated movie. I enjoyed them but they might be a bit much for little ones. The scene with the kid in the iron maiden comes to mind.

DESPICABLE ME Rating:
3 stars – good movie, take a friend. Like or hate Steve Carell, I though he was fantastic in this as were all the voice talent. The only reason I’m not giving it a higher rating is the emotional connection wasn’t as much there as you find with a lot of Pixar films. But, funny writing, over-the-top visuals and kickass 3-D makes it a recommendation.

Random Recommendations
Dan in Real Life (2007) – This movie didn’t get the chance it deserved and was overshadowed by Carell’s two previous huge hits: Little Miss Sunshine and 40-Year Old Virgin. This is a much smaller film about a widower who is awkward in his own skin only to find the one girl he is able to connect with again… is his brother’s girlfriend. The movie is like Carell’s character: funny, awkward, heartfelt.

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The Incredibles (2004) – If you haven’t seen this yet, how dare you call yourself a lover of cinema! I’m joking…but no really…why haven’t you seen this?! First off, it’s Pixar, which is an automatic “must see.” It also happens to be one of the more dynamic, fun, action-packed films released in the last 10 years. I wish more summer blockbusters had the heart and adventure this movie lays down.

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 Review: Despicable Me
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