The animation film territory was definitely crowned by Pixar whose works were expected (and so far has been realized) to be stellar with a tendency to aim at the heart of its adult viewers. Occasionally, Dreamworks was able to stole a spotlight or two, but one thing stood clear. Pixar sets the bar for animation film and it was sets pretty high.
“Despicable Me” is the first attempt from Universal Pictures in the animation film territory and naturally, it went the safer route with a light-hearted comedy, simple premise and a subtle emotional stuff. None were too heavy as in Pixar movies, but nobody, this film’s makers included, would expect that it does. But the most important thing was, the film worked. It achieved what it has set to achieve which is to provide a light entertainment, laugh and pretty much an enjoyable and pleasant venture into a theater. I had a great time.
Dr.Gru (voiced by the amazing Steve Carell, though I’d bet you won’t be sure if it was him until the credit rolls) is a self-proclaimed supervillain. His reputation (and his ego) is, however, marred by the arrival of a younger villain, Vector who had accomplishes much more grandeur villain-y things than him. Threatened, he, and his partner along with his numerous minions, employs a plot to reclaim the supervillain top spot by stealing a shrinking ray, built a rocket, and shrink the moon (doesn’t matter the scientific consequences of the sudden void of gravity left by the sudden absence of the moon. This is not a sci-fi film). His plan is, however, once again hindered by Vector when he stole the shrinking ray en-route and stow it away in his impenetrable fortress. In an attempt to reclaim the shrinking ray, Dr.Gru soon learns Vector’s soft spot for girl scout’s cookies and later “adopted” three orphaned girls to gain access into Vector’s fortress. Of course, by this time, you’ll know where the film is headed. The real treat of this film would be the relationship between Dr.Gru and his three “adopted” girls with his conflict with Vector added as an icing in the cake.
Squarely aimed for a light comedy, this film works. Its simple and predictable plot are known and merely a device for many of the film’s strengths in slapstick, sharp dialogs, cutesy animation, and the very important assets of this film, its numerous yellow bean-shaped Minions which stole the scenes every time they were in (my favorite would be the bored looking Minion floating due to an anti-gravity serum effect) and threatened to be dangerously missed every time they weren’t. Thankfully, the voice works and like-able characters (even if he was naturally a supervillain, and the not annoying little girls) could keep us, adults hooked for the rest of the film. Children? Oh, they’re going to be up and down their seats for this film. This is a “family film” that even more “family”-friendly than the previous (and yet, still far more superior) “Toy Story 3.”
My rating: **1/2 / **** A welcome and pleasant summer distraction. This is no Pixar, and the quality of its animation and its light, purely comedy shows just that. The film however made up the gap significantly with its light tone, superb voice works and the many showings of Minions which I loved to watch so much that I’m afraid this review is slightly biased.