Despicable Me (Review)

DESPICABLE ME
(7/09/10; Animation, Comedy, 3D)
Voices: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier
SCR: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul
DIR: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
MPAA: PG for rude humor and mild action.
1 hour 35 mins
BOX: $250,966,220

Surprise hit finds the world’s greatest super villain Gru (Steve Carell rocking a non-descript Eastern bloc accent) displaced in the bad guy trade by the younger, nerdier Vector (Segal). Gru concocts a plan to regain his supremacy by stealing the moon (you read that correctly) but will need to get his hands on Vector’s shrink ray gun first.

That’s where a trio of precocious orphans comes in: he will adopt them and use them to infiltrate Vector’s lair. The evil Gru finds himself becoming attached to the girls and splitting his time between world domination and ballet rehearsals.

This first CGI film upstart animation company Illumination Entertainment attracted an impressive voice cast and has fun goosing the trappings of old school spy flicks and modern superhero myths. It’s also laugh-out-loud funny with quotables aplenty: my favorite line was about the delivery of a wrongly ordered weapon – “No, I said a dart gun.”

From the tiny yellow minions to the in-your-face way the movie makes fun of its own 3D format, Despicable Me was one of the great original surprises of the year.

NOT SO FAST: If I were to knock the movie at all, it would be for its thick beat-heavy electronic funk score from uber-producer Pharrell Williams, which often went against the grain of the ‘60s-flavored whimsy.

NOT SO DESPICABLE: Budgeted at a reasonable $69 million, the movie scored nearly $600 million around the world, immediately starting a new franchise and putting Illumination Entertainment on the map. (Universal)

— DENNIS WILLIS

Author: Dennis Willis

Dennis Willis is an award-winning producer, TV host, producer, director, editor (he preferred Avid until a torrid affair with Adobe Premiere, and the rest is history), author and film critic (print and radio). Dennis produced and hosted the TV programs Reel Life, FilmTrip, Soundwaves (1983-2008) and produces the annual Soundwaves Xmas program. He is currently the film critic on KGO Radio in San Francisco, and a member of both the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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