In a happy suburban neighborhood surrounded by white picket fences and flowering rose bushes, sits a black house with a dead lawn. Unbeknownst to the neighbors, hidden beneath this home is a vast secret hideout. Surrounded by a small army of Minions, we discover Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), planning the biggest heist in the history of the world. He is going to steal the moon (Yes, the moon!) in Universal’s new 3-D CGI feature, Despicable Me. Gru delights in all things wicked. Armed with his arsenal of shrink rays, freeze rays, and battle-ready vehicles for land and air, he vanquishes all who stand in his way. Until the day he encounters the immense will of three little orphaned girls who look at him and see something that no one else has ever seen: a potential Dad.The world’s greatest villain has just met his greatest challenge: three little girls named Margo, Edith and Agnes
Despicable Me is an excellent film for both children and adults. I was thoroughly entertained with the story, the characters, the animation, the 3D and the humour and it is by far the closest any studio has come to matching the quality of Pixar films and if it wasn’t for Toy Story 3, Despicable Me would be my choice for best animated movie in 2010 and it’s a film that probably put some of the biggest smiles on my face this year.
The humor of Despicable Me ranges from silly, very funny, subtle and darkly adult orientated. All are going to love the Minions humour with their slapstick and banter they have with each other, kids are going to enjoy the sillier jokes and fart gags and adults are going to enjoy the adult themed quips like one aimed at the Lehman bank or background jokes which are not obvious but are incredibly funny whn noticed, it adds a real sense of humour to the story and added to my enjoyment of it.
The vocal casting is spot on with the talents of Steve Carrell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig and Danny McBride. All deliver wonderful lines from an entertaining script and it never felt like the stars were hired for their name rather than their ability.
Despicable has got it so right. Steve Carrell’s Gru is delivered with almost effortless deadpan humor and villainy, the young girls are voiced without annoyance, Gru’s nemesis and younger upcoming villain called Vector, voiced by Jason Segel, is wonderfully energetic, Russel Brand lends his voice to Gru’s invention creating partner Dr. Nefario perfectly and the brilliant Will Arnett voices Mr. Perkins whose the President of The Bank of Evil that funds anything to do with evil plans in the world. All the characters work well together and I found them all highly entertaining which really benefits the movie.
At the films heart is the three young girls who are taken in by Gru and their story is important to give an emotional anchor to balance out the films zany events of Gru trying to conquer the world as the greatest ever villain. The girls anguish of living in a horrid orphanage and trying to find a family who will take them in and give them love is emotionally charged and with Gru being the latest to adopt them for his own benefit it adds an enjoyable relationship story to the proceedings. Despite being clueless at parenting and having numerous dangerous objects littered around his house (as well as his vast hidden lair under his home!), the bond that grows between the unlikely family is touching and is well handled as Gru slowly learns that the girls mean more to him than succeeding as a villain and the conclusion will no doubt bring a tear to some eyes.
The thing everyone will love from Despicable Me is the Minions, they are some of the greatest character creations i’ve enjoyed in many years and you could probably watch another 90 minutes of the little yellow guys in a film on their own. They are likely to get a bigger role in the planned sequel coming in 2013 or get their own spin off, it’s inevitable. Despite saying very little they have more personality than the new labour leader and provide more laughs than most comedy films I’ve seen this year.
The 3D is used to perfection, I would say it showed some of the best examples of 3D I’ve seen this year with notable scenes being a roller-coaster ride that Gru and the girls take during their bonding session. It’s shown in first person perspective so you get the feeling your riding it and with the added effect of 3D it elevates the scene into something beautifully crafted and enthralling as scenery flashes past you as you dive into the screen and twist around upside down and it really works well. The 3D is used effectively throughout giving layers of depth and to every scene and adds another plus to the quality of the film. A scene showing the size of Gru’s secret lair is a great example of the layers of depth as the camera pans downward showing the journey of Gru traveling down in his lift, its that shows all the activity taking place around him with minions working in different sections and its a real show off of the technology and skill of the animators.
Another exceptional use of 3D was during the closing credits so make sure you stick around for them. The glorious Minions get their own moment as they play a little game of “Who can come furthest out of the screen”, with the aid of a measuring tape they take turns in using a variety of items to leap off the screen in 3D coming further and further out at you, it’s so incredibly effective and hilarious and worth the entrance fee alone and if there are any 3D doubters who have yet to be convinced, I think Despicable Me may well be the film that converts you as to what 3D can offer.
Overall it’s not perfect but it’s an excellent example of adult/child friendly animation that works very very well. Funny, enjoyable and an utter success.
Despicable Me is out on 15th October.