Sunday, June 27, 2010

Despicable Me (2010)

This movie is neither feast, nor fowl. Not enchanting enough for children or sophisticated enough for adults.

While the simplistic story fits a younger audience, visually the animation and action wouldn't be enough to hold and capture their attention -- except for the minions! Steve Carrell is the voice for Gru, a washed up villain who is being usurped by younger evil doers. In fact, one upstart just stole The Pyramids right from under Egypt's nose and if Gru doesn't want to lose his reputation entirely, he's got to surpass that feat. He comes up with the idea to steal the moon, but realizes that is a costly endeavor that will take a large bank loan.

Seeking financing, Gru goes to Evil Bank ("formerly Lehman Brothers"). That was the best line in the movie and clearly geared towards mature audience members, but that's about the only sight gag the film offers. You won't need to rewind this one to catch speeding subtleties as they whizz by, because basically what you see is what you get and what you get is cute, but not memorable.

To execute his plan to steal the moon, Gru must nab a shrink ray gun from his arch rival Vector. Vector has a penchant for coconut girl scout cookies and so Gru adopts three orphans, hoping to gain access to Vector's fortress through their cookie solicitations. The girls are occasionally amusing, but by no means precocious, clever or endearing enough to steal anyone's heart but, inevitably, Gru's.

Gru is assisted in his devious schemes by a gruff inventor and hundreds of minions: yellow, chirpy little pranksters who live in Gru's mansion and assist and sabotage his operations. Since costumed minions bustled around the Nokia theater charming audience members before the movie started, the producers have clearly placed all their merchandising hopes in their tiny yellow hands. Many of the movie's laughs came from the minions' practical jokes and they may well delight some younger viewers. Once I saw them, I could never believe that Gru was that bad of a guy, because he knew each one of his little helpers by name. Ogres don't pay that much attention to others, especially those that work for them. Obviously, there was always a heart of gold lurking behind Gru's scowl.

Carrell is a talented mimic, but he could have done this voice over in his sleep. The 3-D effects are pleasant, but not eye-dropping. Ultimately, this movie is far from despicable, but less than distinctive and never dazzling.

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