Despicable Me (2010)






THE SCOOP
Director:  Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud
Cast:  Steve CarellJason Segel, Russell Brand
Plot:  A trio of orphan girls cause the normally deplorable Gru to rethink his plan to steal the moon.

Genre:  Animation / Comedy
Awards:  Nom. for 1 Golden Globe - Best Animated Feature
Runtime:  95min
Rating:  PG for rude humor and mild action.

IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud have made the third best animated film of the year thus far after Toy Story 3, and How to Train Your Dragon.  I may sound consolatory, but I am putting things into perspective. 

Despicable Me is a very good animated film, but the quality of Pixar’s and DreamWorks’ outputs this year remain unsurpassed.  But then again, if 2010 serves up another animated feature that is every bit as delicious as Despicable Me, I will have no complains.

Written by Ken Daurio (Horton Hears a Who!, 2008), Despicable Me is a story about a deplorable man called Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) who dreams of stealing the Moon by shrinking it using a shrink ray. 

A villain at heart, Gru is cold, calculating, and hates children.  Together with Dr. Nefario, and an army of cute, yellow, goggle-wearing technicians called Minions, Gru attempts to build a rocket that will fly him to the Moon to commit the “crime of the century”.

Enter three innocent orphans, Margo, Edith, and Agnes, who are “adopted” by Gru to be part of a plan to steal the shrink ray from an arrogant young villain named Vector, whose fortress house is almost impenetrable. 

Despicable Me is a comedy-adventure that allows us to witness the thawing of Gru’s cold heart as the three orphans find their way into his life, which until their arrival has been a perpetual lonely and emotionally unsatisfying existence.

As much as the film is about the transformation of a despicable and aggressive man into one that is gentle and caring, it is also quite a cheeky portrayal of the “greed and (over)ambitiousness of Man”. 

This can be seen in the context of the film where villains are able to get funding for their evil projects from the Evil Bank (formerly known as Lehmann Brothers in a clever if-you-blink-you-will-miss-it moment).

Despicable Me is generally engaging and the main reason for this is its high humour quotient, of which it relies quite extensively on farcical visual gags and near-incomprehensible verbal banter by the Minions. 

Now, the Minions are a real funny lot.  They look funny, talk funny, and even laugh funny.  Their interactions with each other, Gru, Dr. Nefario, and the three orphans are indisputably the film’s scene-stealers.  In fact, the animation, which I feel is on par with Pixar’s, is unfortunate to be outshined by the Minions.

Despicable Me is ninety minutes well-spent. Even though it is not as emotionally wrenching as Toy Story 3, nor is it adventure in its purest incarnation as presented in How to Train Your Dragon, this Coffin-Renaud effort is still a very well-made film.  The Minions are so hyperactively addictive that a sequel will be more welcomed than not.  Enjoy.


GRADE: B+







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