Directed by Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Starring Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristin Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher
Screenplay by Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul
Whoever thought up those adorable little Minions saved this movie from being an hour and a half of puppy dog eyes. The girls were cute, to be sure, and really not overdone, but there really isn’t much here to base a movie on. Kind of a Christmas Carol for evil geniuses, Despicable Mehas sharp visuals, dialogue and a unique soundtrack. As for bad guys, there isn’t much to write home about. There is something not so sinister about a villain who wears a track suit.
The Minions, for those who 3 of you who are not aware, are little, yellow, balding, one-eyed (or two) and goggled little workers that live underground at Gru’s (Carell) home. They are forever working on something, forever positive of their leader and forever taking cheap shots at one another. Far from being anonymous drones though, they have different names, a language all their own and have different talents. They were by far the most interesting thing going in this movie, and I could not make out 99% of what they were saying.
As for Gru, he is your typical, neglected as a child, neglected as an adult kind of person who is, on the scale of villainy, somewhere between Jonathan Harris’ Dr. Zachary Smith from Lost In Space and Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers series. His menace is outpaced by his lack of funds, and, essentially his lack of respect by the owner of the Bank of Evil (formerly Lehman Brothers). The B.O.E, as it were, is investing in someone younger and more evil, Vector, who is voiced by an unrecognizable Segel. Vector has that little something extra, or so it would seem, when he undercuts Gru’s plans.
Having a weakness for cookies sold by 3 little orphan girls, Gru, of course, finds the means to adopt them, and we are on our way to gleeful fish out of water. In this case, Gru is the fish, and the dry-dock is parenthood. This goes about as you’d expect. The kids are cute, and push all the clichéd buttons. You have the organizer, who is oldest, the tough one, who is the middle kid, and the wide-eyed and bushy-tailed young one. Of course they grow on Gru and his minions and after a false crisis or two, life delightfully goes on.
If I seem dismissive, I don’t mean to be. Despicable Me is enjoyable while you watch it, especially when you hear the laughter of children going along with it. Flatulence and light scat references (the word “poop” twice, essentially) along with unicorns and the color pink help to rein in the core audience of little boys and girls. Once the credits roll, and the kids are in bed, though, there is little wish to put the movie back in to watch it for yourself, which you can get with films like Up, Ratatouille, How To Train Your Dragon and either of the Madagascar movies. This is not so much a fault than it is a reality, that making films which can appeal to adults and children is hard to do.
This movie is not so much about what is wrong with the film, then, than for what effect it has on you. If you want to see your pre-teens laugh it up, throw it in. If you want to watch the minions for a while, though, you just have to get through the rest of it.
(***1/2 out of *****)