Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Movie Review: Despicable Me

Despicable Me *** ½
Directed by:
Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud.
Written By: Ken Daurio & Cinco Paul & Sergio Pablos.
Starring: Steve Carell (Gru), Jason Segel (Vector), Russell Brand (Dr. Nefario), Julie Andrews (Gru's Mom), Will Arnett (Mr. Perkins), Kristen Wiig (Miss Hattie), Miranda Cosgrove (Margo), Dana Gaier (Edith), Elsie Fisher (Agnes).

Gru is a supervillian that would fit right in to the most ridiculous James Bond movie. He is tall, bald, has remarkably skinny legs and sounds like a Russian Arnold Schwarzenegger at times. He wants to be the best villain of all time – and he is pretty evil, as we witness early on in the movie when comes across a little boy crying over his split ice cream cone, and then makes him a balloon dog to cheer him up, only to pop it right after just because he can. His latest plan isn’t to take over the world, like many Bond villains, but instead to steal the moon. His rival, Vector, has just stolen a pyramid in Egypt, so Gru decides he needs to go even bigger if he is going to top him.

To do so, he needs a loan for the Bank of Evil (formerly Lehman Brothers a helpful sign informs us), but the Bank Executive thinks that Gru is getting too old, and that perhaps he should support Vector instead. Besides, in order to do what he needs to, Gru needs a shrink ray to make the moon a more manageable size, and Vector has stolen it, and despite his best efforts, Gru cannot break into Vector’s house. It is helpful that there “lairs” are really just two houses in the same suburban area. Gru hits upon an idea when he sees three orphan girls going door to door to sell cookies, and Vector opens his impregnable fortress to them. It isn’t long before Gru has adopted the three girls, not because he loves them, but to use them to get inside. But the three girls are so cute and lovable that not even Gru can hold out for long.

Despicable Me is one of the best, funniest animated movies of the year. It helps that they have the best voice cast this side of Toy Story. Steve Carell is great as Gru – disguising his voice, but you can still tell it is him. Jason Segal gets even nerdier then usual as Vector and Russell Brand is wonderful as the aging, hard of hearing Dr. Nefario, who always seems to get Gru’s order mixed up. Best of all may be the three little girls – particularly the lovable Agnes voice by Elsie Fisher, who voice matches the almost impossible cute animation for her character. Look into her eyes, and listen to her talk about her love of unicorns – especially if they are fluffy – and it’s impossible not to fall in love with her. And don’t even get me started on the wonderful minions.

Despicable Me is inventively animated for beginning to end. The theater near my house where I saw it, wasn’t playing it in 3-D, and perhaps that’s just as well – I’m growing increasingly tired with the technology, and can count the number of times that 3-D has actually enhanced a movie going experience on one hand, with a couple of fingers left over. The film is almost impossible colorful, and I fear that 3-D may have taken the edge off of those colors – which is a shame, because it works wonderfully here.

I continually find that many animated movies have grown lazy – slapping together stories and characters that don’t really interest audiences, simply to make a quick buck. That’s why, Toy Story aside, we get so many animated sequels that just are not very good. But Despicable Me feels fresh and alive – it draws us in almost immediately, and its rapid fire jokes almost all hit their marks. To put it quite simply, I had more fun at Despicable Me than I did at almost any other film this summer.

No comments:

Post a Comment