Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Movie Review: Despicable Me

Imagine the worst villain ever... the single figure that inspires the most overwhelming feeling of loathing and hatred that you can possibly muster.


Now imagine that this paragon of horribleness becomes a ridiculously good person for no reason other than the sudden appearance of "cute" children. You now have the premise of Despicable Me.

This is one of those movies that is woefully misrepresented in the advertisement campaign. I was very excited about this movie for a very long time - it looked like it was going to be a fun, tongue-in-cheek, smart animated comedy about a supervillain. It looked like it was going to be one of those movies that appeals to both kids and adults (such as movies like Shrek, or How to Train Your Dragon). However, these hopes turned out to be... rather false.

Despicable Me follows the story of Gru (voiced by the...unique talents of Steve Carell), a self-proclaimed supervillain who has seen better days. He develops a rivalry with the younger supervillain Vector, who represents the geeky, socially inept new generation of villainy. In Gru's quest to outdo Vector in being bad, Gru arranges to acquire some children to infiltrate Vector's Base, steal a shrink ray, and use it to steal the moon. Then this potentially entertaining and interesting plot is interrupted by the fact that the little girls are actually characters too, and they start making Gru's life difficult. At this point, the movie could be salvaged... but then Gru starts inexplicably growing attached to the annoying little gremlins.

If only these were the Gremlins in question, this movie could have been saved.

Gru soon develops paternal feelings towards them, leading him to give up his life of villainy and become a single parent. If the movie had bothered to develop any characters here, this MIGHT have made sense, but as it is the sudden change of heart (it literally goes from hate to love in about 3 minutes) feels forced. But then again, forced story and forced humor is what I've come to expect from Steve Carell.

Despicable me did not appeal to me as a young adult. It was unimaginative in execution, despite a premise that had considerable potential. The humor was relatively juvenile, and while this is just fine for kids, I found it to be repetitive and rather dull.

Now I fully admit that, as far as films directed solely towards children go, Despicable Me is probably rather good. However, the fact that the advertising campaign marketed it as something that would be entertaining to audiences of all ages damages it for me. I walked in expecting something that would appeal to audience members of every age, and walked out singularly disappointed. If you have young kids, go see this movie. They'll have a great time. Just be sure that you bring yourself enough concessions to keep yourself entertained in the meantime.

Final Grade: C

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