Sunday, 10 April 2011

Despicable Me

I finally got to see this (it’s gorgeous on blu-ray in 2D). One of your top ten of 2010, eh? What were you thinking? Three little girls trying to melt a villain’s heart? As if. Come on. And what’s with all the bad guys in this film (come to think of it, are there even any good guys in the film?)? And what about how the baddies are treated? The evilest baddy is this giant with a low villainous voice, a real monster, but what happens to him in the end? As far as I could tell: Nothing! What’s that about? He didn’t have to get a bullet in the head, but he could at least have fallen to his death from his office window in The Bank of Evil (formerly known as the Lehman Brothers bank - ouch, what a zinger!). Then there’s his son, Vector (formerly possessing the apparently unfortunate name of Victor - mmm), a rather nerdish and likable villain who steals pyramids for fun. Okay, the filmmakers end up sending him to the moon (so to speak), but he’s dancing at the end of the film and you just know he is brilliant enough to find his way back to earth.

And then of course there’s Gru, the despicable villain at the centre of the piece, with his despicable minions, his despicable mad scientist, his despicable mother and his despicable dog. What happens to all these despicable creatures is beyond the pale, involving those supposedly innocent little girls mentioned earlier, but not one of them comes to any serious harm. Indeed, dare I say most of these villains are redeemed at the end. Don’t the filmmakers know this is playing against the rules? Wake up, guys!! Top ten, indeed.

What’s that? Not Disney, you say? Pity. I mean, what a relief. You can’t even predict the end of the film (well, you can, but at least it’s genuinely moving and thoroughly satisfying). The truth is that Despicable Me, directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, has a wonderful if not exactly original story. As long as it is telling that story, the film works very well for me, with Steve Carell leading an excellent voice cast (bizarre accents aside). Where the film loses my attention is when it gets into stupid pain gags (including blasting Gru with enough firepower to blow up an army, which, like Wile E. Coyote, he is somehow able to walk away from). The minions seem to be designed as pain gag victims and they were not my favourite part of the film.

Nevertheless, Despicable Me is a humanizing, funny and altogether enjoyable animated film. Who’d have thought the best scenes would be the quiet ones in the girls’ bedroom at bedtime, but they were, at least for me. Despicable Me would not have made my top ten, but I do give it a solid ***+. Two mugs up on this one.

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