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Despicable Me (2010)

Starring:

Jason Segel

Julie Andrews

Kristen Wiig

Russell Brand

Steve Carell

Will Arnett

Directed by:

Chris Renaud

Pierre Coffin

Running Time: 95 minutes

US Certificate: PG

Country: United States

Poor Gru (voice of Steve Carrell). All he’s ever wanted was to be the best supervillain he could be and make his mama proud, but now, with young upstarts like Vector (voice of Jason Segel) going around stealing the Great Pyramids, he really has to up his game. He hatches a brilliant moon shrinking and stealing plot, only to have it thwarted by Vector—his only recourse, of course, is to enlist three cookie-selling orphan girls as his accomplices so that maybe, just maybe, he can outsmart his nemesis and gain the fear and respect of the world. Darn it, though, if the kids aren’t cute, and his whole evil-guy way of life is challenged by little girls and books about kittens.

Everyone knows that when Pixar has a new animated film coming out, audiences will flock and critics will fall all over themselves to lavish much deserved praise. The other major animation studios, however, are a bit hit or miss. Universal hasn’t really had too much to show for itself, but with Despicable Me, they may finally have found their footing and gotten a story in there that, while not as good as this summer’s Toy Story 3, is right up there.

It’s not that it’s one of those “instant classic” type of animated features, though I’d argue that both Gru and his minions (who knew that gibberish-speaking Twinkie creatures were so entertaining?) are definitely instant classic characters.  Gru is especially loveable, through his (and because of) his nefarious ways, and even at his villainous worst, he’s never scary, and is actually even pretty relatable to anyone who’s ever felt inferior. Carrell’s voice work is almost unrecognizable, and on the flip side, Segel is an unexpectedly dastardly but whiny villain villain. Despicable Me doesn’t pack the emotional wallop of some of its animated peers, but it’s consistently funny and strikes a balance between making kids and parents laugh—yes, there are fart jokes, but they’re actually funny.

I do wish more had been made of Kristen Wiig’s evil orphanage head, as she actually seemed more villainous than the villains! And really, though they’re cute, I’d argue the three kids aren’t quite as strong as they could be. That doesn’t really matter in the end, however, because Gru and his minions are enough to carry the whole thing, and I dare you not to laugh when it looks like Gru might have impaled one of the kids.

Just me? OK.

It's Got: Steve Carrell beng funny; Awesome minions who look like snack cakes; Good balance between light and dark

It Needs: A bigger part for evil Wiig; Kids with a little more spark

Summary

Funny, sweet, but still a little dark, kids and parents should have a blast with Gru and those Twinkie-lookalike minions.

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