Despicable Me is an animated romp about competing baddies trying to be the ultimate super-villains. Gru, who is still desperately trying to make his mother proud, wants to better pudgy whippersnapper Vector’s mega-heist (stealing the pyramid of Giza) by shrinking and stealing the moon, which he then plans to hold for ransom. To do this he must first steal the shrink ray from Vector’s stronghold, which is heavily booby-trapped. Realising that the only people able to gain access to Vector’s fortress are three orphaned girls selling cookies, Gru sets about trying to adopt the girls for his own nefarious purposes, but gets gradually sucked into their world of ballet classes and kitten stories.
As far as film plots go, it’s certainly predictable. It was obvious as soon as Gru adopted the girls that he’d become more absorbed looking after them and trying to be a good parent than concentrating on his criminal lifestyle. Gru’s minions, which look like weird sort-of alien creatures (I have no idea what they’re meant to be), are more of a hindrance than a help, but they do provide some comic moments and I wouldn’t mind having a minion or two of my own pottering around the house. There is of course the obligatory heart-string tugger in the form of youngest girl Agnes, who’s all wide-eyed and optimistic, and almost as cute as Boo from Monsters, Inc. (Actually, she rather reminds me off Puss in Boots from Shrek when she uses her big saucer eyes to appeal to Gru).
There’s quite a list of big names voicing parts for the film, not that you’d really know it. Steve Carrell, Jason Segal, Russell Brand and Julie Andrews all feature, but as they don’t sound anything at all like themselves it almost seems daft to spend the money using their voices when they’re not in the least recognisable (to me, anyway). And it’s not only the voices that are unrecognisable either – I’ve absolutely no idea which accent Steve Carrell put on for Gru, but it certainly seemed to move around a lot! I feel like a bunch of unknown voice-over artists could have been used for a fraction of the price, and no one would have been any the wiser. I suppose big names are chosen to draw in audiences, but it still seems like unnecessary expenditure to me.
On the whole, it’s quite an endearing film with some rather sweet moments, but it is predictable and, I must admit, rather forgettable. It was an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon, but there wasn’t anything particularly noteworthy about it. There is a sequel due to come out in the summer but, while I might wile away a rainy afternoon watching it at some point, I doubt I’d spend money to go and see it at the cinema. If you do intend to go, I’d recommend borrowing a relative’s or neighbour’s small child for the viewing. Brilliant though some kids’ films are, I do feel the parents-with-kids hold a slight judgement about adults who go to see them for their own viewing pleasure (although we all know that the parents would want to go whether they had kids or not). Plus I’m sure a child’s reactions would make it all the more entertaining viewing for the grown-up (assuming you’re one of those grown-ups who actually like children, and aren’t sat in the theatre feeling bitter about the numbers of noisy children ruining the childrens’ film for you, as I tend to do). To be honest though, I already feel like the premise of the film has been taken as far as possible and that the sequel is rather unnecessary, so it might be safest to just sit at home and wait for the DVD release.
See previous Film Review, featuring The King’s Speech.