Day: July 16, 2010

Going Rogue: Review for Despicable Me

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I hate when parents, adults, people make the very weak excuse that when a kid’s movie is bad, it’s because it was aimed at kids and that was their main demographic or target audience. That is not excuse at all. Genre does not define the quality of a movie, just as type of pasta does not define how well the pasta was cooked. Regardless of the genre, the film can be good or bad or average because of how it was made, not because of who its audience was. It can affect the critique, but only in the way of how successful it was in pleasing that audience.

Universal Studios releases Despicable Me, a clever, smart, and mildly heartwarming motion picture starring the voice of Steve Carell as Gru, an uber-villain who has had little success in his villainous activities. But he comes up with this amazing plan, sure to please his mother and finally get her approval after years of scorn and disinterest. He plans to shrink the moon and hold it for ransom, after shocked by the audacity of his rival, Vector (Jason Segel) to steal the pyramids of Giza. But to accomplish this, he has to steal a shrink ray that he had originally stolen in the first place, but Vector has stolen from him. He decides to use three young orphan girls as decoys and, after being very annoyed at them, begins to love them, like a father would. Awwww!

Steve Carell fills his mouth with saliva and takes on a sort of Slavic accent to take on the role of Gru. Gru is rather cynical, but this only shows when the children are there. Without them, his personality, especially with the Minions, is rather gung ho about his various nefarious plans. He, when the children arrive, becomes sort of a sour puss, saying no to everything that they want and whine for.  But, he turns into more of a heartwarming, funny bear midway through the movie, which is welcome. Steve Carell delivers the lines in this like he does on The Office, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, and every other thing he’s ever been in: perfectly. No matter the discrepancies in character development, the voice is great and memorable, making it half believable and half mocking/fake.

The children are the main problem of the film: they’re whiny, they’re bratty, and they’re kind of obnoxious. The oldest sister, Margo (iCarly’s Miranda Cosgrove) is acting like the “Responsible Older Sister” one moment and then rudely and irresponsibly the next moment. Some may call this playful mischief, but the frequent changes in action and personality are off putting. Edith, the middle child, is more rambunctious and more obnoxious, as her character doesn’t develop at all. The youngest child, Agnes, is probably the better written of the three, as her character is relatively consistent throughout the entire film. She’s also cute and funny, unlike the other two, who are just plain annoying. Agnes, as the young, cute, and angelic sister, doesn’t really need to change much through the film, so the only character development necessary is what the audience is given from the get go: She likes unicorns, she likes fluffy things (“It’s so fluffy, I’m gonna die!” she says to Gru, eyeing a plush unicorn at an amusement park.)

The script itself is cute, clever, and funny, with its one-liners and sight gags consistently funny. Though, the beginning of the film is rocky, as it’s really quite mediocre in comedic and story quality. But after the slump, 20 minutes into it, it picks up the pace. The animation quality is fine, nothing particularly spectacular by any means. When you have Pixar and DreamWorks to compete with, you will have one hell of a time trying to keep up with.

The draw for many filmgoers will probably be the cute Minions, little yellow pill-shaped helpers in Gru’s lab. They speak some pidgin gibberish, but it doesn’t matter. You fall in love with their physical humor and their funny sounds. They’re so adorable!

The heart of the film is about Gru loving someone and not needing his mother’s approval to do things, and it’s honestly cute. It’s not perfectly executed but it’s cute. The added sarcastic remarks from Gru makes it that much more heartwarming.

It’s an enjoyable film, but nothing to jump and scream about. Russell Brand (Get Him to the Greek) is quite a highlight as the hearing impaired Dr. Nefarious, the scientist who creates weapons for Gru. It’s fun and funny, but it could have been better, mostly due to the lack of character development in the orphan girls.

Grade: B-