DIR: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud• WRI: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul• PRO: John Cohen, Janet Healy,Christopher Meledandri • ED: Gregory Perler, Pam Ziegenhagen • DES: Yarrow Cheney• CAST: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand
Despicable Me opens with the underlying truth of all superhero capers, that the villains are often far more intriguing than our pants-loving heroes. The film immediately throws us into a world in which villains are as famous and hero-worshipped as heroes. Anything sound familiar? Already, Despicable Me has proved itself to be one of the smartest animated capers of recent years, casting a cool eye on our society to elicit chuckles from adults and including just enough to have the little ones rolling in the aisles. That’s before we even meet our protagonist.
Gru is a villain, an unsuccessful villain with delusions of grandeur and a ‘mommy’ complex, when he learns that one of the pyramids has been stolen and replaced with an inflatable one, he knows he needs to step up his game. How would a villain top stealing a pyramid you ask? Why, by using a shrink-ray to acquire the moon of course. As simple as it all sounds, Gru soon encounters a problem. The ‘Bank of Evil’ (queue disgruntled adult agreement) will no longer fund him, so he must go it alone. In doing so, Gru learns more about himself and the nature of villainy than he expected.
Animation is a genre which, until last year’s phenomenal Up, had become predictable. A furry creature would get into a spot of bother and eventually triumph and learn a great deal along the way. Despicable Me is one of the rarest gems in animation and is similar to Up in that it is effective for all ages. It is incredibly refreshing to see that studios are once again treating animation as a film in its own right. Despicable Me ticks all of the boxes in terms of storyline and manages to eclipse its own trailer as we realise that this is more than just another slapstick animation. Here is an animated movie with a heart as large as the moon Gru covets.
It seems that Steve Carell can do no wrong at the moment. Whilst his accent at first is slightly unnerving, as we get deeper into the film it becomes a mere quirk of the character. Carell’s comic timing with Gru is impeccable but what is truly special here is his portrayal of Gru’s relationships. Whether interacting with his mother, minions or three magnificently acted orphan girls, Carell shows a character who has more personality and love in his villainy than many superheroes show in saving the proverbial world. The important thing here is that Gru is no comic-book cut-out. He is three dimensional in all aspects. Here is a rarity in cinema as we are unsure of whether to laugh or cry. Our three heroines in the shape of orphans Margo, Edith and Agnes give profoundly affecting performances given that we are expecting comedy.
Despicable Me is a fabulous idea brilliantly executed. The only minor problem is the use of 3D, it’s almost inevitable that all animations have the suffix 3D tacked on at present but here we have a movie which does not require gimmicks or added-extras. We love our characters and we enjoy their journey and sometimes, that is enough. Gru’s minions will immediately have the children giggling whilst a relentless plotline that raises questions about our own lives keeps everyone else interested.
Despicable Me is one which should not be missed by children of any age.
Ciara Lianne O’Brien