*We took the family to see Despicable Me the other night, courtesy of the lovely and talented Chris Louzader. This is my take on the film and in no way counts for anything beyond what you are paying to read this.*
Despicable Me is absolutely loaded with potential. Kinda like me. And, kinda like me, it never reaches it’s full capabilities. All the elements are there for a ripe harvest of hilarity, a touching story of heartbreaking warmth, all that business that’s made a few animated films true priceless gems. And, as an uninformed and non-credentialed critic, I liked it. It was “cute”. It was “adorable”. But so is my grandmother. And if she ever hears me call her that, there will be a beating in my future.
But was the movie a full-bore love affair for me? No.
There was so much that was reasonably likable about it, though. Steve Carell belts out an impressive accent, and the illustrators managed to capture what I think his face might be contorting like in the studio. But, somewhat like his character on The Office, he absolutely needs foils to make his humor work. Awkward, party of one, wouldn’t be near as funny, and his title character in Despicable Me, Gru, is sorely missing mo’better banter with either his mother, his scientist sidekick or his adopted kids. All of these characters are underutilized. And his nemesis Vector? That dude falls as flat as a pancake in Kansas. He was annoying enough that you found yourself really, really hoping that Gru would actually kill him. Of course, that might make kids cry, but they would probably agree with me.
In fact, the best dynamic in the whole movie exists between Gru and the very best part of the movie – his legion of Minions. Minions don’t really speak, they mumble and chatter and they perform semi-human acts that are funny in the same way it’s funny when your kids carry on debates about ideas they don’t even understand, like health insurance legislation. (I’m not pretending to understand it, I just like to get angry about it). I loved these guys. Gru clearly loved them too. Who wouldn’t want an army of loyal little yellow guys carrying out all your heavy lifting and getting themselves in to rascally conundrums? I think they carried the movie, and they made a s0-so story funny enough for me to choke up on over-buttered popcorn a time or two.
Would I see it again? In a theater? Well if The Heathens wanted to, sure. But then, I’ve also been talked into situations far shadier by virtue of being their dad. I endured years and years of The Wiggles and Thomas The Tank Engine and now some sort of obsession with battle-bot/transforming/Lego/Ben10AlienForce/weird Japanese anime mash-ups, so I’m easily impressed by very little. This movie has much more than very little; I’m just not gonna beat some kindergartner silly for the best seat at the next showing.
I hate to undersell this show, but when you’re up against the Toy Story and Cars-esque powerhouses, the bar has been set really high. As a conspicuous consumer, I DEMAND oxygen-depriving fits of laughter, mind blowing animation and gut-wrenching storylines with each new release. This attitude, like my wasted potential in life, is pretty shameful. In fact, it’s downright despicable.
Enjoy the movie. I did.
Overall Score: Solid B