Review: ‘Despicable Me’

An enjoyable movie (in spite of revealing nearly every money shot in ads prior to the release.)

Gru (Steve Carell) is the world’s greatest supervillain, right up until an upstart named Vector (Jason Segel) takes his spot and the trophies of his capers. When Vector steals one particular device needed for Gru’s newest plan, Gru is forced to adopt three orphaned girls to gain access. The girls were only intended as a means to an end, but as their presence begins to soften Gru’s heart, will he sacrifice his sure-thing victory to truly earn their respect?

With the exception of perhaps Evan Almighty, Steve Carell’s career is on the rise. But rather than lend his voice as-is, Carell voices Gru as a Russian-born Bond villain complete with a regiment of Twinkie-like minions ready to do his bidding. Carell’s Gru predictably grows from a proud villain to into an adopted father with more heart than you might expect from essentially a farce. With no other performance coming close to being as layered as Carell’s, the rest of the piece is played for laughs to such an extent that it never reaches Pixar-plotted heights.

There are two things to complain about here, both to do with the advertising of the film. It’s understood that trailers promise what to expect, but over-advertising can ruin a film, especially when revealing all of the money shots (the cool thing that happens at the end of a scene: the explosion, the punchline, or the rescue.) It’s no fun when watching the movie itself is only seeing everything between those scenes. Despicable Me comes close to this kind of spoilage in addition to the second issue: scenes in the trailer that never appear in the movie at all. Plenty of other films are far more guilty of this than this one, but it’s hard to ignore it here.

Compared to Pixar’s summer behemoth Toy Story 3, this little story about orphans, evil deeds, and world domination might have slipped under the radar if not for googly-eyed Twinkies dressed in coveralls. That’s not to say in a year full of successful family fare and sure-fire blockbuster misses that this wasn’t an above average film. But perhaps the best part of Despicable Me is that it wasn’t a sequel and actually took a risk in doing something different to be successful. Of course, it’s reward for doing so will be a sequel or two, but even a one-eyed minion could have seen that coming.

(a three skull recommendation out of four)


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