Thursday, July 8, 2010
Delightful "Despicable Me"
“Despicable Me” is the third in a trifecta of fun family films that are brightening the summer of 2010.
This CGI-animated action movie spoof has the added advantage of being a one-off original, with a distinctive French flair.
While it is not as emotionally moving as “Toy Story 3-D,” it is lighter and much funnier than that sequel and superior in every way to the middling “Shrek Forever.”
The title character of “Despicable Me,” Gru, is voiced by Steve Carrell with a vaguely Russian accent.
Gru is further proof Carrell is a man of prodigious talent. Though we never see the actor, he makes us laugh and at the same time feel sympathy.
Gru prides himself on being the world’s nastiest villain. He loves to freeze people simply to cut to the front of a line. Recently he stole the Statue of Liberty (the small one, from Las Vegas, he concedes to his horde of yellow cylindrical Minions), but lately he has been slipping.
Gru has been upstaged by a mysterious new super villain who has stolen the Great Pyramid of Egypt in broad daylight.
That would be a whipper-snapper who calls himself Vector (Jason Segal), a bespectacled nerd with a weakness for video games and Girl Scout cookies.
To reclaim his title, Gru plans to steal the Shrink Ray that enabled Vector to steal the pyramid. Then he will fly to the moon, shrink it to softball size, and bring it home as his trophy.
While Gru thinks he is the world’s baddest, meanest, smartest villain, he is really none of the above. The brains of the outfit is his chief scientist, Dr. Nefario (British comedian Russell Brand) and his brawn is the legion of tiny, blindly loyal Minions.
As for the bad part, Gru’s shaky façade crumbles away when he meets three adorable orphan girls: Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Elsie (Agnes).
How corny is that, right? Yes, it’s corny, but it’s classy corn that openly spoofs and even refers to Orphan Annie from the stage musical and the dread orphanage matron, Miss Hannigan.
In this version, by Sergio Pablos and Ken Daurio, Miss Hannigan is called Miss Hattie (Kristin Wiig affecting a syrupy Southern voice).
To steal the Shrink Ray, Gru adopts the girls and enlists them to unwittingly help him to gain entrance to Vector’s fortress.
Gru’s fumbling efforts to thwart Vector are reminiscent of both Wile E. Coyote and Mad’s Spy vs. Spy. Needless to say, there are many comic complications to Gru’s nefarious plot, and many pitfalls (“I said Cookie-Bot not Boogie-Bot!”), not the least of which is the girls.
Underneath it all Gru is one big softie of course, with a severe inferiority complex due to his frosty, disapproving mother (Julie Andrews).
“Despicable Me” looks great in 3-D, and while it has many thrills and chills, any menace is strictly for comic effect. This is a movie parents can enjoy with even their youngest children