a critiQal film review Despicable Me (2010)

Plot: In a secret underground hideout surrounded by his minions, Gru (Carell) is planning the biggest heist in history - he's going to steal the moon. Armed with his arsenal of shrink rays, freeze rays, and battle-ready vehicles for land and air, he vanquishes all who stand in his way. But his biggest challenge comes when he encounters three little orphaned girls who look at him and see something that no one else has ever seen: a potential Dad.

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After going on a Date Night (2010) with Tina Fey, Steve Carrell returned to theaters – at least, his voice did – in the animated comedy Despicable Me.

But, would his return as a nefarious evildoer turned all wishy-washy by a bunch of kids be a laugh riot? Or was this one going to be too syrupy-sweet for even the biggest sap among us?

Sporting a rough accent, Steve Carrell voices Gru as a supervillain with a heart, and does a decent job of it. The accent is just plain ridiculous (and seems more like a cheap way of trying to cover up Carell’s recognizable voice). But the character himself evolves decently over the course of the film, and Carell – known for his deadpan comedy after umpteen years doing The Office (TV) – voices him with the right mix of comedy and heart. Unfortunately, like many episodes of The Office (TV), his deadpan shtick gets a bit boring after awhile, and viewers will find themselves looking for more.

Thankfully, that more is found with the minions, strange pint-sized yellow beings that speak a nonsensical language while loyally staying at Gru’s beck and call. These runts are the highlight of the film, supplying most of the funniest moments. One example of this: in a dark tunnel, one minion grabs another, squeezes him until he hears a crack, then shakes him – and the minion, not physically affected in the least, starts glowing and leads the way out. Ah, glow sticks – whatever happened to those things? Anyway, the viewer will look forward to their every appearance.

Gru himself is at odds with another villain, Vector (voiced by Jason Segel). The attempts Gru goes through in order to try to gain access to Vector’s lair seem to set up a fun intro to the film. Unfortunately, these quickly fall by the wayside as Gru gets himself involved with a few abused orphans, all young girls, with big eyes. And the film, like Gru himself, soon finds itself falling to pieces.

Up to the point where the doe-eyed orphans get involved, Despicable Me seems like it’s destined for great comedy heights. With a supervillain face-off, comical pint-sized minions, and an opening sequence involving rednecks and an inflatable pyramid (witnessed in the trailer), Despicable Me seems to have everything going for it.

Then the cute little orphans enter, and suddenly the film turns itself inside out trying to becoming sickly sweet and family oriented. As expected, the orphans, while interfering with Gru’s villainous schemes, worm their way into his heart. The rest is easily guessed at. Gone are any surprises, or surprising twists. Instead, viewers get piles and piles of sickly sweetness right up to the inevitable conclusion, giving the viewer a few cavities along the way.

Starting out well but ending up both predictable and boring, Despicable Me turns out to be a big disappointment. While some may appreciate the sickly-sweet “villain with a heart” mess this becomes (especially young parents), this one will never be on my list of movies to own – despite those scene-stealing minions.

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