DESPICABLE ME review by Steve Oatney —
Despicable Me is an animated 3D feature film that made me laugh. That’s about all I can ask for, from such a movie. However, I fully realize how subjective humor is, and how animation is still thought of as ‘kid’s stuff’ by many Americans. It is my feeling that this story will be appealing to many children, and adults alike.
Is this my new favorite comedic animated film? No, not even close. Would I recommend it? Yes, but with reservations to parents that it has a PG rating, instead of G, for amounts of violence that are reminiscent of old Wile E. Coyote gags. Remember all of the physical abuse that Coyote had to take in pursuing the Road Runner (falling off of cliffs, anvils smashing his head, and the like)? Despicable Me makes use of this sort of humor, which has died off a bit in cartoons and 3D animation over the years, as audiences crave more and more intelligent humor, even for kids.
“Intelligent humor” like The Hangover and Hot Tub Time Machine, you ask? Okay, as I said above, comedy is subjective. VERY SUBJECTIVE! One person’s favorite comedy, is another person’s least favorite. That’s just how it goes. Comedy writers will never be able to please everyone all of the time, nor any type of filmmaker, for that matter. I must admit, while I enjoy highbrow humor, I also enjoy lowbrow, as well. Inane comedies like Dumb & Dumber and the classic Three Stooges bits get me giggling, and so did Despicable Me.
The story is about a man who has spent his whole life trying to gain the approval of his overly-critical mother and three little orphan girls who are looking for a home. At a young age, Gru (Steve Carell) shows interest in science and technology, and tells his mother (Julie Andrews) he will one day go to the moon. She is unimpressed. All grown up, he has become an arch villain and a quite evil-intentioned person set on stealing… the moon! From the get go, we don’t like him, but his evil antics have that sort of schadenfreude appeal (deriving pleasure from other’s misfortune). Why some people enjoy watching other people fall on their face, I’ll not even attempt to address. It is, however, a type of humor that gets many people snickering or even guffawing.
The three cute-as-a-button orphan girls are voiced by Miranda Cosgrove as Margo, Dana Gaier as Edith, and Elsie Fisher as Agnes. Presently living in an orphanage, run by Miss Hattie (Kristen Wiig), we watch them selling door-to-door cookies for fundraising, when they encounter both Gru, and Vector (Jason Segal). Inadvertently, they become involved in the ongoing feud between the two arch villains. In so doing, Gru adopts the girls, for his own malicious means to and end, using the girls to help steal a newly developed shrink-ray. He plans to use it to shrink the moon for easier pilfering. Being a top-level wrongdoer isn’t easy, especially when you have three young girls in your life, and they begin to change Gru’s life in ways he never thought possible.
Without giving any more away, I’ll just say that Gru’s quest for gaining his mother’s approval is an arduous and life-altering process with some good laughs throughout. I don’t usually give a numeric-rating for films, but if I had to do so for Despicable Me, I’d place it somewhere around a six out of ten. Good enough to see, not good enough to own, in my opinion.