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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.79%
Worth A Look41.38%
Average: 24.14%
Pretty Bad: 20.69%
Total Crap: 0%

3 reviews, 11 user ratings

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Despicable Me
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by Erik Childress

"Klytus, I'm Bored."
2 stars

Before a screening of Despicable Me I recommended to a colleague none too excited about the animated project not to raise expectations to a Pixar level. We were only a week removed from Toy Story 3 at that point and the whiff of that masterful glue factory still permeated through our palettes. Boasting a hefty parade of comic talent behind the voices and a clever concept, Despicable Me looked ripe to be a breakout of originality this summer. But the longer it went on, its ingenuity waned and the experience lagged to the point where I, myself, was saying how much better this would have been under the watchful eye of Pixar.

Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) is one of the world's great supervillains. A hunchbacked Peter Lorre with a thick accent, Gru is starting to trail in the villainy ranks and is looking for something that will make him stand out amongst all others. That's when he decides to steal the moon. Oh, Donna Reed would be so proud. One little problem though, the evil bank (formerly Neiman Bros.) will not fund his latest effort. Especially when the shrink ray he needs to cut the moon down to size is already in the hands of geeky up-and-coming bad guy, Vector (Jason Segal).

With a race of spongy yellow aliens as his minions and "Q"-like Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) to create his weaponry, Gru still does not have what it takes to reacquire the shrink ray from his new nemesis. Until he notices three cute little orphans, led by the elder Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), selling girl scout cookies. Seems ol' Vector has a sweet tooth and they are the only ones not subjected to the array of security devices alligning his suburban fortress. The plan: adopt the orphans, allow them to unsuspectingly infiltrate Vector's lair, get the ray, grab the moon, become the greatest villain ever and an even better father. Actually that last thing was never part of the plan even if we know its in the stars.

Despicable Me is already instantly inviting comparisons with Brad Bird's The Incredibles and has a chance to ingeniously invert loyalties over to the bad guy's point of view and purpose. By traipsing over into Up's territory where a surly man with a plan is forced into bonding with children, the shoes become even bigger to fill. Reaching the heights of those earlier films is a task few filmmakers or second-tier animated studios are up for, but some part of directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud had to know tha latter half of their story was never go to be as interesting as the setup unless it felt absolutely genuine. This turns out to be just one of many areas where the film comes up short.

The three children never go beyond the bill past precocious packages of cute led by an elder sibling who also just seems to be filling a role as a watchful eye than a real player in the events. The screenplay credited to Ken Daurio & Cinco Paul (Horton Hears a Who & College Road Trip) misses the opportunity to make Margo an intellectual equal to Gru who shows him how the brain can be used to help mankind rather than disrupt it. In the strangest and most glaring omission of the film, however, is trying to sell the ongoing battle for domination amongst the world's villains and then crafting a world where there only appears to be two. After Gru and Vector, the competition cupboard is bare with not even the inkling of a clever montage a la The Incredibles where we discover the failings (or success) of their opponents. No great villains conference or support group for down-on-their-luck antagonists or even just a hint that we are not watching the best of their respective field duke it up (without having earned those titles by perspective) and the lack of ingenuity of the entire project comes crashing down like a fragment of moon rock before you can say "Klytus, I'm bored."

Above all, Despicable Me also fails in the humor department. Scattered laughs here and there, mostly provided by the jibberish-speaking minions, but little more than light chuckles. The film may have gone far enough to garner a "PG" rating, but that's pretty ridiculous considering nothing is as darkly unsettling as seen in Toy Story 3 which had the courage of its convictions to deliver such moments. "Cute" is a word you will hear tossed around exits of Despicable Me, with a shrug of the shoulders growing exponentially with age. Inoffensive and safe without being particularly funny or exciting, Despicable Me would likely earn that description even if someone went back in time and made sure Pixar never existed. Now THAT would be a truly despicable villain.

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originally posted: 07/09/10 15:00:00
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Trilogy Starters: For more in the Trilogy Starters series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival For more in the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Astana International Action Film Festival For more in the 2010 Astana International Action Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/08/19 Louise (the real one) How can anyone not love this? Cute, funny and very cleverly done! Marvellous! 5 stars
9/02/14 Mario is the Best This movie is AWESOME!! 5 stars
12/26/13 Charles Tatum Charming animation, very funny and cute 4 stars
7/06/11 millersxing props go to Pharrell (saved the soundtrack) and Carell and Co. (saved the animators) 4 stars
6/12/11 Dr.Lao I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would 4 stars
2/22/11 KingNeutron Lots of LOL moments, but the music was really subpar 4 stars
1/30/11 Amy Such a funny and cute movie- I love the minions :) 5 stars
11/18/10 Roy Smith It's pure product with zero surprises and extensive theft from Pixar! 3 stars
9/20/10 M Could of been funnier/edgier but still worth the ticket price! 4 stars
7/31/10 Cheryl W. Heartwarming, great plot, hope to see a sequeal! 5 stars
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  09-Jul-2010 (PG)
  DVD: 14-Dec-2010

  15-Oct-2010 (U)

  09-Sep-2010 (PG)
  DVD: 14-Dec-2010

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