The Me in Despicable Me would be Gru, a meanie with a long, pointy nose and no forehead. He wears turtlenecks and speaks (via funnyman Steve Carell) with a vaguely Eastern European accent. His underground lair is in the subcellar of his suburban home. Gru has Mommy issues, thanks to his disapproving mother (Julie Andrews), who never thought that he would amount to much. “Ehhhhh,” she says, no matter what he does.
Gru’s minions, however, worship him. They’re little yellow guys who look like supersized jellybeans, with blue overalls and either one or two eyes. They chirp and twitter and manage to goof up whatever task they’ve been assigned, which does not help Gru with his plans to be Numero Uno Evil Mastermind. Neither does he get much assistance from his partner in crime, the ancient Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand). What really gets his knickers in a twist, though, is when a newbie supervillain named Vector (Jason Segel) steals the Great Pyramid of Giza, thereby becoming the world’s greatest villain. Gru’s plan to retake the mantle of villainy is to steal something even bigger: the Moon.
His plan is excessively complicated – as supervillain plans frequently are – and involves adopting three adorable orphans. Why? Because they sell the cookies that Vector can’t resist, of course (and blah blah robots, blah blah shrink ray, blah blah...). The moppets are Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), the smart one; Edith (Dana Gaier), the tomboy; and little Agnes (Elsie Fisher), who loves unicorns like crazy. They live in a Dickensian orphanage run by Miss Hattie (Kristen Wiig), so they’re pretty happy to be adopted, even if it’s by a persnickety, curmudgeonly weirdo like Gru. Will these cute girls melt Gru’s hard ol’ villainous heart and turn him into a Superdad? Faster than you can say 3-D rollercoaster ride.
Despicable Me is the first feature film from animation house Illumination Entertainment, and was helmed by a pair of French directors, Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud. It’s a kitchen sink production – everything is in there: Cute kids. Slapstick minions. Sharks, nerds, ray-guns, rockets, amusement parks, orphans, sight gags, funny accents, funny voices, elderly people, some heartstring-plucking…all in glorious 3D. Well, the 3D is no more glorious than usual, except for that rollercoaster ride, which is almost authentic enough to make your stomach flip-flop. There’s surely an untapped market for 3D IMAX movies of rollercoaster rides: perfect for those who want the thrills without the long lines and death-defying. I’d like a 3D surfing movie too, please.
Despicable Me is perfect for those who want a movie with a little bit of everything, but not a lot of anything. It’s hectic and colorful, intermittently cute and fitfully funny, and it works really, really hard to please. It’s passably entertaining, but doesn’t leave a lasting impression. Gru’s Mom would surely give it an “Ehhhhh.”