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Despicable Me
Genre Animation
Year: 2010

Despicable Me, a tale about an evil mastermind, who adopts three girls from an orphanage in the hopes of breaching his arch rival's security via the time-honoured tradition of selling cookies, and instead, falling in love with the idea of losing 'despicable' for 'dependable' by becoming a dad. Almost brings a tear to my eye. Jokes aside, Despicable Me is one of those cartoons that will surprise you at just how much you've invested in the movie. Apart from the 3D admission ticket, popcorn and drinks there's plenty to be said for the role of one's father, something this animated feature film works with in a similar way to Dan in Real Life.

Dan, an advice columnist, had to take some of his own advice in learning to take care of his three daughters and the same happens for our main protagonist and evil inventor, Gru (Carell). When three little girls get put into his care, he becomes their guardian, their protector, their hero and yes, their father. It's a wacky comedy movie but the humour is underwritten by some heartwarming drama about three "unwanted", abandoned girls finding someone to love and care for them.

It's little surprise then that Steve Carell, star of Dan in Real Life and voice artist for Horton Hears A Who! was cast as Gru. The script may not have given Carell a chance to really shine in the comedy department, taking a similar role to Jim Carrey in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events or A Christmas Carol. However, it's the heart he brings to the character that really sells Despicable Me - with Gru... or at least his nose taking the majority of the screen time.

The supporting voice cast is great with a couple of surprises, including: Russell Brand, Jason Segel, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett and Kristen Wiig. Most of the characters would be difficult to recognise without the credits, but this is just testament to the voice performances rather than their reliance on star power, case in point, Russell Brand as Dr. Nefario. Perhaps it is the subtle values this animation brings across that make it fun, entertaining and heartwarming... it definitely grows on you.

Despicable Me also echoes animated movies like Meet the Robinsons, where a young orphan inventor is brought back to the future to meet his family-to-be, while staying a step ahead of an evil mastermind. Just from that synopsis you can immediately connect keywords like 'orphan', 'inventor', 'evil' and 'mastermind'. It doesn't stop there, Meet the Robinsons also dipped into what can be described as Arrested Development wackiness, taking the dysfunctional family dynamics and loosening a few screws. Despicable Me makes a valiant attempt at connecting the dots and there are a few laughs, but it's not sustainable without the warmth.

The animation, directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud (Ice Age 2: The Meltdown), borrows some character ideas from Flushed Away and instead of hilarious squealing slugs... it's an army of minions with their own language that fills the quiet moments with a bit of enthused silliness.

Despicable Me is a great family comedy film and it's almost essential that you see it in Real 3D to get the full effect with imaginative gizmos and guns that shoot piranhas. The franchise has already been primed for Despicable Me 2 and while the premise seems wholly original in its fresh packaging, the connections with other movies give it a sense of the familiar.

The bottom line: Playful


6.00/10 ( 2 Votes )
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