Dir: Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud
Despicable Me can be summed up pretty quickly. An evil genius named Gru is trying to be the bestest evil mastermind out there – but competition from younger baddies is fierce, and money is tight. Gru eventually ends up having to adopt some adorable orphans in order to further his nefarious plans. The orphans start off by getting on Gru’s every nerve. But, in the tradition of all the best animated films, he may eventually begin to see that there is more to life than being evil…
The film is almost exactly what you would expect from a CGI family film. The plot is solid, if not inventive. The characters are all engaging and lovable, especially the ones with gargantuan, liquid and slightly trembling eyes à la Puss in Boots in Shreks 2-4. There are plenty of gags, of both the slapstick and more adult kind, with digs at Lehman brothers et al. There’s even the seemingly obligatory impromptu boogie at the end of the film where a pair of minor characters check each other out. Although seeing as one of them is voiced by Russell Brand, I guess that’s to be expected.
So, the film is what you’d think it would be. The next question is whether this is a bad thing. The common criticism of most modern animated films is that they rip off Pixar in one form or another, but this could be taken as a backhanded insult. After all, Pixar films are acknowledged as genius. Mish-mashing their techniques and style doesn’t leave you with a bad film, just an overly familiar one.
That said, people who are looking for something with greater depth, wit and originality from a kid’s film should probably look elsewhere. According to most critics, Up, or even Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, are better examples of this style, so if you are low on your ‘endearing but light-hearted’ quota maybe check those out instead.
In any case, the film grossed big in the US and is likely to do the same here-mainly due to the higher price tag on 3D tickets. The debate as to whether it’s worth watching in 3D is pretty academic here, since that is the only way you can see it in town centre cinemas. Having said that, watch out for a nifty bit on a rollercoaster which is pretty fun with the extra dimension.
All in all: funny and well made, but nothing new.
by Sarah Reeve