Despicable Me (2010)
★★★ / ★★★★
Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), a supervillain resembling Penguin from Tim Burton’s “Batman Returns,” felt pressure to top Vector’s (Jason Segel) recent accomplishment–stealing a pyramid in Egypt. So Gru came up with a brilliant idea: steal the moon. Unfortunately, he did not have enough money to create a rocket that would launch him to outer space. An opportunity disguised as three orphans named Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher) knocked on Gru’s door and slowly he began to realize that perhaps having a family was more important than being known as the world’s most famous supervillain. Although “Despicable Me” did not have anything particularly new to offer to its genre, like most successful animated films, its simplicity worked to its advantage. The humor was obvious, we knew exactly where the story was going and it was easy to relate to it because it played on the inner child within all of us. It was the small details in animation referencing to pop culture not at all dissimilar to the “Austin Powers” franchise and tiny tweaks to the typical storyline that elevated this movie to the next level. Its cuteness was constantly on overdrive especially the scenes with Agnes’ big eyes combined with her hilarious one-liners and Gru’s sometimes unintelligible minions (Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud, Jemaine Clement). The action sequences were silly but inspired (my favorite was when Gru was finally successful at entering Vector’s lair), the psychological explanations involving Gru’s motivations brought a silly grin on my face, and even the will-he-or-will-he-not-make-it scene involving a ballet recital was strangely involving. What completely did not work for me, however, were the dance sequences. Those were unnecessary because they felt cheap, out-of-place and lame. Since the material was already over-the-top, being more over-the-top hindered its momentum and I would have preferred more jokes even if they involved a little bit of slapstick. “Despicable Me,” directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, is a harmless but entertaining movie full of charm and fiery creativity. The picture reached its peak when we were allowed to reenter a child’s sense of wonder–a quality that, unfortunately, most of us have lost. Gru may be a supervillain with a penchant for making kids happy one minute and then taking away their source of happiness the next, but he is far from despicable and definitely more lovable.