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Review: ‘Despicable Me’ is delightfully despicable

Despicable Me may not have the sentimentality or artistic flare of a Pixar flick, but it certainly isn’t a film to brush off.

Steve Carrell

Gru (Steve Carrell) is not your typical super-villain. His acts of wrong doing are simply not cutting it anymore. Sure, he has it in his heart. He tries his best to be evil. He drives the epitome of a gas-guzzling vehicle. He pops children’s balloon animals. He even cuts in line at the coffee shop. But he’s getting more and more competition from newer, younger talent, and he’s starting to feel like yesterday’s (bad) news.

Despicable Me may not have the sentimentality or artistic flare of a Pixar flick, but it certainly isn’t a film to brush off. To be sure, it is hysterical. Steve Carell fills the voice of Gru perfectly, not sounding as much like a superhero’s nemesis as he does Bela Lugosi’s Dracula.

Gru takes obvious hints from various Bond villains. He doesn’t have any real superpowers; he’s just an ordinary man, and a rather rotund one at that. His elaborate weaponry is developed in a secret laboratory hidden beneath his suburban home, and his loyal assistant isn’t aging very well. Like all super-villains worth mentioning, he has a full army of minions, ready to carry out his wishes without question. Unfortunately for Gru, they look something like overall-clad Twinkies, speak in a vocal form of chicken scratch, and are about as malignant as lollipops. All in all, they are adorable.

Despicable Me

The main storyline of the film follows Gru’s journey into fatherhood after he adopts a trio of orphan girls to complete an elaborate heist of a powerful weapon. The girls are fun, quirky, and way too much for Gru to handle. His poor understanding of what it means to be a good dad are worth a few laughs, and, of course, there are a few lessons on family and love shoved in for good measure.

The movie has been heavily marketed as a 3D film, a niche that I have not yet been sold on. There are a few gimmicks throughout the film that are obvious ploys to throw stuff in the face of the audience (a technique that I find tacky and hackneyed), but I have seen far worse. The movie is easily just as enjoyable in the traditional two dimensions.

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There was one major downfall to this otherwise pretty decent movie, and it’s hopefully one that will be a short-lived fad in cinemas: the phones. Prior to the release of Despicable Me, electronics retailer Best Buy released an application for smart phones that allows the garbled language of the minions to be understood during the ending credits. While this app is in effect, the screen is dimmed and the ringer is forced to silent. Nonetheless, with about ten minutes left in film, I noticed phones being opened throughout the theater. No matter how much the screen is dimmed, it’s hard to ignore a couple dozen people simultaneously checking their phones. Perhaps this is an app best saved for the DVD release.

Nonetheless, the movie is definitely worth seeing. It may not have been as profound as the recent Toy Story 3, but it is certainly well made and very funny. Just remember to keep your phone off.

[rating:7/10]

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