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"Despicable Me"
Reviewer:
Chris Pandolfi
Studio: Universal
Genre:
Family
Release Date:
12/14/10
Special Features:

See Below

Review:

While not quite as wondrous or challenging as a Disney/Pixar film, "Despicable Me" is still a lot of fun, able to make audiences laugh without having to sacrifice story or character development. It's also one of the few animated films to not entertain the idea of heroes - it merely distinguishes between evil villains and not-so-evil villains, the latter apparently capable of good deeds despite their propensity for hatching diabolical schemes. Such a person is Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), who looks like a pointy-nosed Fester Addams and speaks in a pseudo-Russian accent so delightfully phony, it only adds to his charm. His goal has always been to become the world's greatest super villain, but as the film progresses, we realize that, underneath it all, he's actually a pretty nice guy.***

He certainly has the means to be a criminal mastermind; within his vast secret lair beneath his looming black house, he and the goggled Dr. Nefario (voiced by Russell Brand) have overseen the creation of ray guns that can freeze people and blow things up, vehicles that can drive on surface streets but look serious enough to drill through the Earth's crust, flying machines equipped with every missile known to man, and tiny robots disguised as chocolate chip cookies. The problem is, Gru's notoriety has been overshadowed by rival super villain Vector (voiced by Jason Siegel), who looks like Bill Gates in an orange jumpsuit and lives in an obscenely secured white fortress (surveillance cameras, hundreds of missiles, trick doors, shark-infested moats - the whole nine yards). Hoping to regain his status, Gru plots his greatest heist yet: Stealing the moon.***

Of course, it will have to be shrunk to a manageable size, which is why Gru needs Vector's extra special shrink ray. Here enters three orphaned girls - Margo (voiced by Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (voiced by Dana Gaier), and Agnes (voiced by Elsie Fisher) - who get by selling boxes of cookies door to door; Gru adopts them, knowing that they can safely infiltrate Vector's fortress. What begins as a simple plan turns complicated when the girls start behaving like the children they are. They run around. They make noise. They touch things they're not supposed to touch. They always want to be read a story before going to bed. Aside from those things, they actually expect to be raised, a responsibility Gru has avoided after growing up with a sourpuss mother (voiced by Julie Andrews). Does he have it within himself to be a dad and a super villain?***

Many animated films have scenes stolen by the antics of their supporting characters. "Despicable Me" is no exception; here, we have Gru's minions, a multitude of yellow ball-shaped one- or two-eyed creatures of unknown origin that speak fast, high-pitched gibberish and are a bit accident prone. You look at one and just can't help but want to punt it across a football field. It would probably be able to take it, judging by the hilarious physical abuse they all endure throughout the film. They're goofy, broad, and given the best sight gags, so naturally, they thoroughly upstage all the other characters every time they appear in a scene. They're even given their own epilogue segments during the end credits, which have little to do with the actual story but deftly take advantage of the film's 3-D effects.***

Ah yes, the 3-D, seemingly inescapable these days. It's a process I admittedly have mixed feelings about. Sometimes is works beautifully (Disney's "A Christmas Carol," "Avatar," "Alice in Wonderland"). Sometimes, it's either an unnecessary gimmick ("Clash of the Titans," "My Bloody Valentine 3-D") or a total disaster ("The Last Airbender"). I'm glad to say that it works for "Despicable Me," especially during a scene at a boardwalk amusement park when Gru and the girls ride a roller coaster. There's also the moment when Gru makes an emergency landing in the middle of the street; the point of his shuttlecraft juts out from the screen, which momentarily made me think it would poke out my eye. Still, if you have the choice, go for traditional 2-D. Aside from paying less at the box office, you won't have to bother with the glasses, which can often times be a distraction.***

Regardless of the dimension involved, "Despicable Me" is a delightful film - funny, sweet, and a triumph of animation and visual effects. Kids will enjoy it for its bright colors and physical humor, and this will almost certainly include Dr. Nefario's demonstration of a gun that emits a foul-smelling gas: "It was supposed to be a DART gun!" Gru exclaims in frustration.

Special Features:

Commentary with directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin, featuring the Minions!

GRU-CONTROL: Through a picture-in-picture window, see the making of the film with behind-the-scenes footage and cast/filmmaker interviews (BD-exclusive)

The World of Despicable Me

Despicable Beats: director Chris Renaud talks about the cool factor of renowned music producer Pharrell Williams.

Gru's Rocket Builder: In an all-new game, Vector has stolen some of the most famous landmarks from around the world and replaced them with the pieces to Gru's rocket. Players must return all the stolen landmarks to the correct countries in order to build their own rockets before Vector hacks into the system and steals the rocket plans. The reward for completing the rocket is a launch to the moon!

A Global Effort: learn all about the global effort behind Despicable Me. A director from France and another from the USA, plus an American and English cast created a movie in France, with artists from all over the world for a truly international movie.

Three all new, mini-movies starring the Minions (for a limited time only):

"Home Makeover"

"Orientation Day"

"Banana"

The Voices of Despicable Me:go behind-the-scenes with Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Miranda Cosgrove, Kristen Wiig and Julie Andrews as they give life to their animated characters. Includes character profiles for each of the cast members.

Super Silly Fun Land: join Agnes, Margo and Edith at the Super Silly Fun Land Theme Park and play Feed the Creatures and Freeze the Floating Minions to win super cool prizes.

Miss Hattie's Top Secret Cookie Recipes: Margo is proud to present the recipes for those wonderful cookies that the loveable orphans under Miss Hattie's care enjoy so much! (BD-exclusive)

pocket BLU

Minion Me: Exclusively for iPhoneŽ and iPadŽ: Personalize photos of friends and family by turning them into Minions. Pictures can be customized with glasses, bowties, hats and hairstyles to make it really hilarious! Send it to your friends with a Minion laugh.

Minion Dominion App: Exclusively for iPhoneŽ and iPadŽ Control a Minion by turning, tilting, rotating and shaking your phone. Tap the screen to make him speak, tap it again to hear him laugh. Or do battle with the two-player "minion mash up."

Download to your iPhone and see who can inflict the most damage on the other's minion.

Advanced Remote Control

Video Timeline

Mobile-to-go

Keyboard BD-Live

My Scenes

Final Words:

Adults will like it for its subtler touches, like a sign that reads "The Bank of Evil (formerly Lehman Brothers)." Everyone is sure to enjoy its good-natured spirit, especially when it's coupled with scenes of Gru's minions. Mark my words: They will be remembered long after memories of the plot have faded.***

 

 
 
 
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