The promotional campaign for Despicable Me has been an on-going process dating all the way back to 2009! To the casual movie observer it could be assumed this movie has already hit theaters since the promotion for this has been so drawn out and hyped up. All this hype can be a bad thing and the trailers do a pretty good job of giving away the best bits of Despicable Me but overall the movie is stuffed to the brim with charm, heart and one-liners although it has been done before.
Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) is a super villain attempting to get a bank loan in order to build a rocket and steal the moon. Unfortunately he is foiled at every turn by rising super villain Vector (voiced by Jason Segel). In order to gain access to Vector’s secret lair Gru decides to adopt three little girls selling cookies but has no idea what he’s in for when he discovers he actually has to parent the children. Becoming ever closer to the three little girls also starts to infringe on his scheme to steal the moon, forcing Gru into a decision on which role in life he wants more.
The strongest aspect of Despicable Me when all is said and done is how sweet the story is. Gru may be a super villain but the movie focuses on his relationship with the three little girls Miranda, Edith and Agnes and his own childhood experiences with his mother (voiced hilariously by Julie Andrews). The scenario is a classic fish out of water/tough guy forced to care for kids’ scenario and plays things by the books, but in a way that still manages to win the audience over. For a movie in modern times the film feels remarkably old-fashioned, something that works to keeping things down to Earth inside the super-villain premise from the names of the girls to the lack of cell phones or other modern things outside the wacky gadgets. The movie establishes a very “any-where USA” vibe to it that was different and unique. The one-liners and funny scenes are not all wasted in the actual trailer as there are a slew of hilarious moments that had me busting up from the minions deciding to make inappropriate photocopies to the girl yearning for pizza with “stuffed crust.” By the end you’ll come to love Gru and his three wards and hope that they end up together whether you see the end of the movie coming or not.
Despicable Me may have an all-star cast but you wouldn’t know it from how they all try to mask their voices in a way to keep things about the story. Carell isn’t the most unique voice actor but Gru is a fish out of water 100% with his crazy Transylvanian-like accent and the actor gives him a typical Grinch exterior. Surprising side characters voiced by Kristen Wiig as Miss Hattie and an almost unrecognizable Russell Brand as Dr. Nefario are all hilarious but the true stand-outs are the voice talents of the three little girls. All three are imbued with distinct personalities and their voices convey that totally. Nickelodeon star Miranda Cosgrove voices the motherly Margo, young Dana Gaier voices the tomboyish Edith and the adorable Elsie Fisher is Agnes and they are the true scene stealers from the way they work together to win Gru over and how they stand out in the crowds. This movie is about them when all is said and done and the voice work is perfect!
At its core Despicable Me is about a Grinch finding a family and that causes the plot to steal the moon to become a big hindrance. Vector is the most annoying character in a movie this year and while Jason Segel gives the character his all, he’s never written as anything beyond “annoying villain.” At one point it seems that Dr. Nefario is being groomed to lead the villainy aspect, ironic considering his name, which further shows how pointless Vector is. Anytime the plot shifts to Gru being a villain the movie loses its steam and humor, in fact had Gru just been trying to juggle being a villain and dad the story would have flowed a lot smoother. The timeless aspect is focused on throughout the movie but there are a few odd instances where the movie dates itself, most prominently in a stupid Lehman Brothers line that seemed out of place. The trailers are also giving away a lot of truly hilarious scenes and while they still will make you laugh, the marketing is really giving away a lot.
Overall Despicable Me is a cute and sweet comedy that focuses on family and living up to expectations that will please adults and children alike. The super-villain angle is a bit lackluster but it never makes the movie feel anything less than worthwhile.