– Summary –
Director : Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud
Year Of Release : 2010
Principal Cast : Voices of Steve Carrel, Jason Segal, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig.
Synopsis: Wannabe super-villain Gur is put out by upstart newcomer Vector, who has successfully stolen one of the pyramids of Giza and seems to be merely an attention seeking git. Gur, in retaliation, comes up with a plan to steal the Moon, but in order for his plan to work, he must adopt three young girls from an orphanage – as you might guess, his family responsibility soon comes into conflict with his plans for world domination.
What we think : Terrific (if predictable) yarn featuring some truly awesome animation, Despicable Me is a pretty decent film by anybody’s estimation. Vocally adroit, stylishly executed, and featuring the coolest minions ever assembled in a film before, Despicable Me deserves more than a cursory glance from audiences everywhere. Great stuff.
The first animated feature film from Universal Pictures (several years late, eh boys?) and CGI studio Illumination Animation, Despicable Me features a pretty decent cast involved in a humorous slant on the “Super Villain” story: here, the villain of the piece is the star, and his enemy is a fellow villain seeking to usurp his plans for world domination. In order to steal a valuable Shrink Ray from young supervillain Vector (Segal), older player Gru (Carrel) must adopt three girls from an orphanage to complete his plan to steal the moon. Yes, the moon. However, as his plan for moon-stealing progresses towards completion, Gru finds himself torn between his growing fondness for the trio of girls, and the life-long dream of going to (and stealing) the orbiting body. It’s this tension that creates the most character drama within Despicable Me, and while smacking a little of films such as Annie or Oliver, Despicable Me not only acknowledges the roots of its narrative (some throwaway lines for a brief chuckle mention Daddy Warbucks), it elevates such story points to a new high. Gru is an unsympathetic character, ostensibly, but the filmmakers have given him an audience friendly layer of sad-sack misunderstood-ness, which engenders the requisite “aww shucks” moments later in the film.
I love animated films, love ’em with a passion. To me, they’re just as inventive and amazing to watch as anything Disney’s early hand-drawn period put out – boy, that statement will offend somebody I’m sure. Just because computer animation doesn’t have the “hand crafted” feel of more traditional formats of animation, doesn’t make it any less of a storytelling craft. Pixar have certainly spent the better part of their careers getting us to understand just that. Despicable Me has no pretensions of grandeur: it’s a fairly simple story, told in the simplest of styles, with some occasionally breathtaking animation and some wonderfully conceived set-pieces. The voice cast, Carrel in particular and the three young actresses voicing the trio of girls Gru adopts especially, is wonderful, and there are moments of genuine warmth and human characterisation within the film. The film does have its lulls, although they’re few and far between, but the buildup to the finale is worth the wait – grand, character driven storytelling from somebody other than Pixar has been lacking of late, but with this (and How To Train Your Dragon) being released in 2010, the shift in quality over quantity from Hollywood’s CGI brigade is starting to pay off. The kooky characters aren’t as kooky as one might have liked, but the zeal with which the film is presented is enough to overcome any minor story bumps. The films’ main advertising point, the yellow tic-tac Minions, are especially amusing throughout the film, they play a similar element in this film that Scrat does in the Ice Age movies. I can recommend Despicable Me without any hesitation, although repeated viewings might sour that original opinion somewhat as there’s a few moments where things seem to grind to a halt.