Despicable Me has a simple premise: animated 3D style family comedy about a supervillian that has a change of heart. Does it fit the bill? Well, yes. Slapstick moments? Check. Small creatures? Check. Karaoke finish? Check. Anything particularly noticeable other than that?
The ratings and reviews of this movie so far have been positive on the whole; the movie has debuted in the top spot, grossing £3.6 million in ticket sales at the time of writing, knocking movies The Social Network and Vampires Suck way below par.
The film also boasts a rather impressive cast – not necessarily A-Listers throughout, but big names such as Steve Carrell and Russell Brand feature as the voices of central protagonist Gru and Gru’s scientist friend Dr. Nefario respectively. Whilst their names lend themselves to comedy – and their voice acting probably does aid the humour of the film, their performances will never be as memorable as Tom Hanks’ as toy cowboy Woody of Toy Story fame.
In fact, if you’re looking for another animated film akin to the intelligent humour and grace of the Toy Story trilogy, then you are going to be a little bit disappointed with Despicable Me. Whilst hilarious and massively heartwarming upon occasion (there was applause in the theatre at times), Despicable Me just does not have the intelligence of any of the genre’s predecessors. Raucously funny, it may well be, but there is really nothing new here when you realise that the film is from the creators of Ice Age; the small yellow creatures that are cute and incapable of speaking are basically Scrat in another form, Gru is another lonely Manny, and the three little orphans are not so far off the bizarre ‘herd’ of misfits that Ice Age eventually comprises.
Ice Age was special at the time because computer animation was something new, and now 2010 has seen 3D computer animation really hit the ground running. But it is not until the final credits when the creators of Despicable Me actually play with the depth of scope that 3D is capable of, and it leaves the rest of the film feeling as if they could have done more.
Realistically, there seems to be a lot missing from the film when it comes to the three small orphans. The three girls do seem to have their own distinct personalities, but these are based more on stereotypes than on anything particularly creative – the eldest sister plays at being responsible and clever, the middle sister is the pink-wearing trouble-maker, and the youngest sister who is a generic cute little girl. It’s a dynamic that is easily recognisable for the kids, but unlike the multi-layered Toy Story 3, which appealed strongly to an adult audience too, there is nothing about these girls that speaks on a higher level. Nevertheless, the storyline surrounding them is loveable and heartbreaking (in a good way).
The only redeeming quality of this film is where it really counts – in the obvious comedy. The plot is guessable, and you have a rough idea of where it will end up, but it doesn’t really matter because the zany moments (ever seen a supervillain shoot a squid out of a gun?) and pure slapstick moments really shine. There might not be much integrity or style, but there are guaranteed laughs throughout.
In summary, only the following three words actually matter: go see it.