Despicable Me (2010)

Directed by Chris Renaud & Pierre Coffin
Written by Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio

This film has been one that I have been anticipating for some time in all seriousness. I tend to love animation (my top 3 this year so far are all animated films) and with all of the names involved in the project, I was excited, reminded of Horton Hears a Who!, a film a really love. The previews did not show much to start, but then gradually the studio decided to let in on the plot a little bit more with their previews, which is fine, but I always like a good surprise. Sadly, there really is not a surprise. What you see is what you get, and what you get, sadly, is a bit of a mess.

The film follows super villain Gru, voiced by Steve Carell, who is trying to still compete with other villains as he gets slightly older and slightly more out of the ballgame. His chief competition is Vector, who just stole the Pyramids. Along with his minions, Gru recruits three kids, unbeknownst to them, to help bring down Vector and steal the Moon, the true crime of the century, and a boyhood dream. Where the film goes wrong is all of the avenues that it seems to open up. There is actually a lot to like about the film. The characters are funny, and interesting, but our knowledge of them seems to be shallow. There is not enough character development for my liking. I want to get to know these characters, not just see what they are doing. What happened to the why of things?

Like I said, there is much to like. The minions, for one, are the best things about the film. They are always funny, and mostly unpredictable. Their nature is that of happiness and the unquestioned following of Gru. Their antics, and especially their voices, are hilarious. The three children, Edith, Agnes and Margo, are great little girls too. They sell cookies, love unicorns, and love being read to at night. The littlest one, Agnes, is by far the funniest and most lovable, but all three of them are fun. The bad comes with the good though as well. Mr. Perkins, the loan officer at the Bank of Evil, and villain rival Vector are both somewhat uninteresting and not utilized to their potential. Their involvement in the film as a subplot with the development of Gru as a father seems strange and almost forced. Another gripe I have is the fact that I couldn’t recognize any of the voices of the talents I love so much, and it’s not because they “escaped into their characters”. In a film like this I like to be able to hear the voices and recognize them. They breathe life into their animated counterparts that way, but not here. Like I said, there are so many things thrown into the plot, including Gru’s mother, that either never truly get tied up, or there was just nothing that needed tied up at the end.

The filmmakers ambition is admirable, but in the end I feel as though they tried to make it too complex. It is supposed to be a kid’s movie, simple is fine and can often times be great. They had the right idea with the right characters, but I was never pulled in and invested in the outcome of these characters fates because I felt like I hardly knew them. It had its fair share of laughs, and like I said, the minions are great, but in the end, the film is smashed into forgettable mediocrity by its own noble ambition.

**1/2 – Average

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