Thursday, July 15, 2010

Movie Mini Review: Despicable Me

Title: Despicable Me

Cast: Steve Carell, Jason Segal, Miranda Cosgrove

Plot Summary: Evil super villain Gru (Steve Carell) plans his biggest caper yet, but he needs the help of three young orphans to pull it off. He adopts them out of evil selfishness, but in the course of pulling off the heist he grows to love them and has a change of heart… but he still pulls off the heist (spoiler alert).

My Thoughts: Over the past 4 years or so, I've seen a lot of "kids" movies. It seems, more times than not, when we go to the theater it's to see something for my daughter. I'm not complaining. Being the only dude in our household (even our dog is neutered) it's either kid flicks or chick flicks for me at the theaters.

I'm just sayin' I've seen a lot of them in recent years. Up, Finding Nemo, Shrek(s), Ratatouille, Kung Fu Panda and more. Believe me, this isn't to brag. It's just to say that I've got a base of experience to pull from here.

I can tell you that Despicable Me is one of the better efforts in this genre that I've seen.

We open with an introduction to the main protagonist, Gru, an super villain nearing the end of his career. He comes across as mean, more than evil. Sure, he's got the freeze gun that he uses on everyone in front of him at the coffee shop. Yeah, he smashes other peoples' cars and pops a kid's balloon. But his most nefarious accomplishment is the theft of the Times Square jumbotron, and a few fake landmarks from fake Las Vegas.

Contrast that with young up-and-coming super villain Vector (Jason Segel), a cocky hipster nerd villain with a secret benefactor who shows up Gru by stealing the Great Pyramid of Giza. Vector enrages Gru by stealing his shrink ray gun, a device Gru himself rightfully purloined from its Japanese creators and which he needs to pull off his magnum opus: stealing the moon.

So he needs to get his shrink ray gun back, but Vector's lair is impregnable. The only only people able to penetrate the tight security is a trio of orphaned little girls who are selling cookies for the morally questionable matron of the orphanage.

So Gru adopts the girls and uses them to gain access to Vector's lair to steal his shrink ray to steal the moon, to… well, I don't want to give too much away.

At this point I'll just say that the voice acting was pretty solid, as you would expect with the likes of Steve Carell and Will Arnett in the cast. The story was interesting and well paced, and the characters were for the most part compelling and interesting. I particularly enjoy the kind of story construction where an audience is led to root for a "bad guy" who eventually becomes the hero (the first Shrek movie did this quite successfully).

These kinds of movies also throw a bone to the adults in the theater by including some inside jokes that only the grownups would get. There are some delicious examples of this in Despicable Me, including the "formerly known as" moniker on the Bank of Evil (where super villains get their operating capital. What? You don't think they have all that money laying around the house do you? Do you have any idea how much a secret lair built into volcano costs?)

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 minions

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  1. I am also the only male in our household by a ratio of 27:1 (that's counting ALL the ladies' multiple personaities), so kid fare has become our quasi-stable film fare.

    However I am taken aback by the continued use of characters of questionable or low moral character as main protagonisist in childrens' movies - it appears that trend continues with Despicable Me.

    Thus, in no small part due to your estimable review, we will skip Hollywood's latest and trendiest "kids" offering and instead see something more in line with our beliefs and principles...

    Twilight: Eclipse

    p.s. - TMI re your poor pooch. Sad, that.

  2. Thanks for the review. I'm sort of ambivalent about the premise but I like the cast. I'll wait for Netflix.


  3. BTW, I'll let you rent my boys for some male activities, i.e. underwear on floor, bodily emanations, etc.


  4. @Nick,

    There's not enough Junior Mints in the world to get me to go see any of those vampire movies.

    I guess I should judge before seeing one, but from what I understand it's about a 120-year-old vampire who wants to have sex with a 14-year-old girl.

    Where I come from that's called vampedophelia, and it's against the law (even in Florida).


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