Published Jul 08, 2010Aw, mean parents with cute adopted kids ¯ isn't that precious? In this day and age when animation can make anything virtually huggable, villains can be awesome parental figures and Steve Carrell can be one of them. Jason Segel can be a sport-suit-clad wannabe, Russell Brand a senile accomplice, Julie Andrews a snide mother and Kristen Wiig a heartless adoption agent.
Despicable Me is the fast-paced tale of Gru (Carell), a once-infamous villain who strives to steal the moon to return to the top after encountering a stale moment in his career. He realizes that Vector (Segel), a younger and more tech-savvy opponent, with an appreciation for underwater creatures, has stolen his spotlight and lunar plan, and decides to adopt three orphaned girls so he can get into Vector's lair via cookie sales. But he never predicted becoming attached to the girls as an unlikely father, thus putting his moon scheme in jeopardy.
While he plots and parents, his employees ¯ yellow little monsters called Minions, who have people names like Bob or Stuart ¯ run around causing chaos. They resemble thumbs or Lego heads, clad in goggles and overalls, speak in similar syllables to English, punch each other, take step classes, are experimented upon and more. They're more so for humour and audience attention than plot, but it works.
The movie offers up a great amount of laugh out loud and giggle moments, between the Minions' quirks and Gru's not-so-fond childhood memories, but most of all, the chemistry between Gru and the three girls ¯ Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and puppy-eyed Agnes (Elsie Fisher) ¯ as they learn each other's ways (once, when he says goodnight, he adds, "Oh, and there's probably something in your closet!"). You'll be aww-ing at every moment with Agnes, especially the part when she freaks out about a massive stuffed unicorn at a carnival.
The sisters are a great team, showing strength, imagination and even some scepticism towards their new father. The relationship hits a literal high on a rollercoaster ride, and don't forget, the movie is in 3D.
There are a few possibly teary-eyed moments for kids and adults, and some good grown-up moments, such as ageism in the workplace, learning to love after a sad childhood and figuring out priorities. There's not much to complain about besides what, at times, feels like a disconnect from the voice actors and their characters or that you don't get to really see Gru's motivation for being a villain, but it's not enough to damage the entertainment.
Despicable Me is bound to be one of the more memorable hits of the summer. As he slithers through the slick soundtrack, produced by Pharrell Willaims and Heitor Pereira, Gru can make any cold heart a bit warmer. (Universal)