Newest Review: ... It's predominately aimed at children, but it's enjoyable for all the family. After getting this on DVD, I coerced my parents and old... more
Despicable doesn't mean worthless here.
Despicable Me (DVD)
Member Name: cha97mw
Despicable Me (DVD)
Advantages: really loveable child characters, an emotive plot, cute minnions
Disadvantages: slow to get to the point at the start, but did get better as it went on.
Despicable Me is a 2010 animated film produced by Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment is something that passed me by completely on its release, only to be found while browsing on lovefilm's online selection of films for something to while away a rainy afternoon with my kids. Having never heard the title of the film before, I went into this with very little expectation, only hoping that it would entertain us for a short while, and it certainly did that.
For me, this was a little slow to get started, with a few different plot lines that needed bringing together a bit before you felt some warmth for the characters and I started to enjoy the film. We start with a theft being uncovered. Someone has stolen one of the pyramids - this is declared the greatest crime of all time, so other criminals realise they have to come up with something bigger and better to stop themselves looking small time in comparison.
Gru (Steve Carrell) is getting on a bit, and he wants to complete one big last job. The bank won't lend him any money to complete his task though due to his lack of prior success, so he hits on a plan to steal a machine from a rival villain, Vector (Jason Segel). The only way he can think of to get into the house involves some orphaned girls who he sees go into his house selling cookies. His cunning plan sees him trick the lady in charge of the orphanage into letting him adopt the three girls, and this is where the film starts to warm up for me.
The girls complete change Gru's life and his way of thinking as only children can, and they are getting in the way of his villainous plan. Gru has a battle between his heart and his head, and it is interesting to see which way wins out.
At first, it is hard to like Gru in any way, shape or form. He is not pleasant to look at, he is not entirely the sharpest tool in the box, and he is in no way parent material. The three girls are painted as lovely little children, very much like the orphans in the film Annie. Together they dream about the day they will be adopted and having a nice Mummy figure, only they end up with Gru instead who hasn't a clue. His ideas of childcare are like how you would treat a pet, with food put on the floor, and the kids being made to fit around him.
The girls are so loveable even when Gru is at his worst, and so grateful for the smallest little things that they can't help but thaw him out a little. As tough as Gru is, the girls force him to take care of them and become a dad.
Gru is helped to take care of the girls by his group of minions - small alien type creatures who have their own sort of language, and are rather childlike so perfect to be around the girls. (Not the most original of ideas having small cute aliens, but they are more humanised than the toy aliens in Toy Story and very adorable, especially when they go out into the world alone and react to everyday things. )
While this is an animated film, I couldn't help but feel there was more here for the parents than the children. A lot of the affection for the characters comes from seeing how Gru interacts with the girls, and this is sort of appreciated more when you are a parent yourself, and you recognise the situations that are happening that we all face.
For example, one sweet little moment that stuck with me was the youngest girl Agnes has a toy Unicorn that is vapourised by one of Gru's weapons. She immediately looks to Gru to fix it, but in an adult way he tells her it is not fixable. However, she starts to hold her breath and her sister explains that she will do that till its fixed, and Gru lasts a matter of seconds before he sends one of the minions on a mission to get another one. The minion returns with a cobbled together toy made from a loo brush and an ice cream cone, and she is delighted again. There are many moments like this where you see the little manipulations that children do, like just one more bedtime story, and you see Gru fighting to not respond, but he is then sat there at the dance rehearsal while the girls prance about in tutus. Hardly how a supervillain behaves.
My children did like some of the plotline, but they were not picking up on the subtleties within the script and visually that we were, and they were not fully appreciative of it. Normally they watch a new film and they will tell me with a bit of prompting what they liked about it, and there wasn't a lot from this one. It was really obvious things like the fighting and the shooting between the bad guy and good guy.
Animation in this film is on parr with any other animated film I have seen recently. I do prefer the Pixar stuff, but there was nothing that was flat or out of place, and I felt it was engaging and the visual work complemented the script well. The soundtrack fit well with the work too. There were some amusing sequences featuring the minions such as them doing a karaoke version of copacabana in their alien voices, but which was still very recognisable to the original version to me. I also loved the cover of the Beegees song, You Should Be Dancing. It felt like songs were timed well to the mood and action at the time of performance.
While it is not the most stunning animated work I have seen, and I do seem to have seen a fair few recently, I think this is a good effort at a plot and animation. I am really quite shocked I had not heard about it before watching it. I think it could have benefitted from a sharper beginning rather than being quite disjointed like it was, but the overall lasting impression is I would watch it again, and I think people should give it a chance and see for themselves what they think. It is a stronger film than I first imagined from the beginning. I am glad I stuck with it and watched the whole thing.
Summary: A likeable film that I had never even heard of before coming across it.