“Despicable Me” Movie Review (2010)

7/18/2010 Posted by Admin

“Despicable Me” Movie Review (2010)

Directed by Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin, written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, 88 minutes, rated PG.

By Christopher Smith

The new 3-D animated movie, “Despicable Me,” is a surprise and a delight. It’s a movie about one horrible supervillain named Gru (voice of Steve Carell), who borrows money from evil banks to support his evil doings. He also lives in a creepy house decorated in ways that would make the folks at PETA cough up a hairball--panda skins used as rugs, alligators turned into sofas, a rhinoceros outfitted as a chair.

Essentially, whatever is on the most endangered list, Gru has it stuffed.

He’s a cruel one, that Gru, and he revels in that cruelty whenever the chance presents itself, which is often. What makes his character interesting is that Gru is cosmopolitan, a witty sophisticate in uber-chic black attire that suits his dark mood.

For sidekicks, he has a hideous dog hybrid with sharply misguided fangs, a gaggle of yellow blobs who are gung-ho to help Gru in whatever task he presents to them, and also Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), an elderly scientist who provides the movie some of its bigger laughs.

And then there’s Gru’s equally evil nemesis Vector (Jason Segel), who has a mind sharper than Gru’s, which causes a firestorm of jealousy and hatred between them.

As well as competition.

When Gru decides he wants to shrink the moon and steal it, Vector naturally wants to do the same. And so they try to outwit each other, with Gru going so far as to adopt three tots from an orphanage so he can steal from Vector the device that will turn into the moon into the size of a softball, thus making it easier to pluck from the heavens.

Why does he do all this? In clever flashbacks, we’re offered glimpses into Gru’s rotten childhood. He was raised by a fickle mother (Julie Andrews) and poo-pooed his every dream, his every move, his every breath. She never supported him or his wild inventions, which worked to turn Gru against people while he still strived to make his mother proud of him. Would stealing the moon be a turning point in their relationship? Will he finally receive her approval? Gru thinks he might, and so he goes for it.

Meanwhile, knowing why he is the way he is, audiences can’t help rooting for him, especially as he softens toward his adopted children, which is predictable, but which is nevertheless handled well by French directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin.

In fact, you can feel their French sensibility ringing throughout “Despicable Me.” There is a cool aloofness to the proceedings that gives the film an edge and helps to make its dark humor something unique and unexpected.

The animation also is very good, and even in 3-D, which already is a sad gimmick that often ruins a film (and costs ticket buyers a ridiculous amount of money to rent glasses they have to give back), the movie manages to hold back and use its additional dimension only when it offers the maximum effect.

Watching the movie, what you find is a fine balance as to what appeals to children and what appeals to adults. Since many of the film’s jokes can be taken two very different ways, that’s especially tricky to pull off, but “Despicable Me” shows the competition how it’s done and it does so with aplomb.

Grade: B

View the trailer for "Despicable Me" below. What did you think of the movie?

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