Sunday, February 24, 2013

Despicable Me Jul 11, 2010 4:52AM PST

While it's obvious from the trailers the main character Gru doesn't really turn out to be such a bad guy (his desire to steal the moon stems more from a lack of support from his mother ands an obsession with space exploration... I'm sure given his Russian accent there's a metaphor I missed in that), it's also obvious this movie is animated comedy at its funniest. Not so much its most technically impressive, as Toy Story 3's Lots O' Hugs Bear alone blows it out of the water in terms of visual detail, but it is a great comedy.
You would think Gru would slowly be coaxed into liking the kids, but instead we see early on that his main objective is to impress others rather than harm. Granted, this fact is shown through his loving interaction with his yellow minions and his brilliant yet senile inventor Dr. Nefario (who I really wish there was more of) while his living situation is a bit more sinister. His house is booby trapped with all kinds of spikes (resulting in a surprisingly dark gag, though nothing REALLY happens) and his couch is made of dead alligator skin. A bit more of his downtime could have been more interesting, but unfortunately it mostly takes place in his basement, which is essentially a war room. More jokes could have arisen from him being a bit more evil, but I was actually kind of impressed by his humanity, perhaps because I remember childhood cartoons that just told us the bad guy was born the devil and that was that. Gru is at least fleshed out.
The same can't really be said for his arch enemy Vector though. Ultimately, he and the lady that run the orphanage turn out to be the real villians, but Vector has much of the same intentions as Gru does, not really being so evil but simply trying to impress an ever-unimpressed parent. Of the people in the film, the orphanage operator has the least redeeming qualities (not counting the owner of a Villain Bank from which Gru must get loans to complete his heists) and is therefore much more interesting than Vector, yet he gets spotlight treatment.
The voice acting by Russel Brand (Nefario) and Carell (Gru) is fantastic, as you're never really aware it's them doing the voices, and ultimately though the plot could use a more interesting approach to villiains, its main objective is to make us laugh and go "aww" at the kids; it succeeds on every level in that regard. The physical humor involving the minions and experiments gone awry is hilarious and clever, the interactions with the kids is heartwarming, and Gru's consistent failure and embarassment early on make for a great comedy of errors.
Pixar Comparisons/Final Word While it doesn't have the storytelling or visual capability of Toy Story 3, I found it much more enjoyable than Up! or Wall-E personally. Up! tried hard to make me cry, but not hard enough to make me laugh while Wall-E was extremely impressive, but ultimately didn't satisfy me on a visceral level. This movie aims for a series of gut laughs and cuteness and delivers a very satisfying entertainment experience because of it. Highly reccomended for both kids and adults.

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