By Marco Chacon
Jul 14, 2010 03:12 PM EST

Despicable Me Theatrical Review

Despicable Me Theatrical Review
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According to voice actor, Steve Carell (The Office) Gru sounds like a cross between Ricardo Montalban and Bela Lugosi.  He is a bald-headed, pointed-nosed super villain who carries out astounding thefts and is gearing up for his biggest triumph yet -- stealing the moon.  However, life as a super villain is not all it could be.  Of course, there are perks such as freeze-raying people in front of you at the coffee shop, but there are set backs also -- the Bank of Evil doesn't want to loan him starting capital for his scheme; they prefer to fund younger upstart villains like his rival, Vector.

Being a cartoon, this gives us a kid's perspective from three cute orphan girls who unexpectedly become part of Gru's plan; forcing him to adopt and then, sort of, care for them.  It gives us humor-characters in the form of his "minions" who are bright yellow pill-shaped creatures.  They adore and work for Gru, and he pays them something, but it is not clear how they spend money.

The movie gives us a predictable arc, with all the interspaced 'humor beats' and plot development, you would expect from an animated kid's movie -- will the girls melt Gru's evil heart?  The only time it truly shocked me was around three-fourths of the way through, Gru has to make a choice between a childhood dream with a certain childish nature to it, and a responsible adulthood.  The movie's setup manages to mix these in a way that results in Gru making a decision that felt wildly out of step with the rest of the movie's light-hearted tone.  To be certain, the animated camera lens downplays the tragedy of his decision, but the whole thing revolves around whether to be a super villain mad-scientist or a responsible father feeling forced and off-key to me.

Other than that, there is a shot where Gru has to break it to the minions that his operation might need to fold up shop, and he gives a speech that is pretty much the same what you expect when a company is about to close it's doors. Again, the movie hits the sad note only for moments before returning to playing it for laughs; but might be more than a little painful for people in the audience given the current economical situation of the country.

Despite all of this, animated movies cannot all be blockbusters as Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon. Despicable Me is cute and funny and generally likable.

There are movies that use  3D well and those that do not. Disney's Bolt did not "use its 3D" especially well, but Coraline did, with some action sequences that produced flinching and non-action sequences where the 3D-effect gave the model-created world added depth that was welcome.  There are very few movies that have excellent 3D such as Avatar, and those that do not like Clash of the Titans.  Despicable Me is in the first category for both of them.

It has some pointy things that come at you and a very clever credits scene where minions vie with each other to see who can get the furthest out of the screen towards you.  The 3D process for animation is very clean; In terms of "3D-ness", it is a credit to its kind. There is a roller-coaster scene which in either 2D or 3D gives you that falling-sensation that you can get from the big-screen simulated motion experience.

If you are looking for some family fare this summer Despicable Me is definitely one to see.

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