Despicable Me made its debut tonight on HBO, and I got around to seeing it for the first time.
Afterwards I felt Despicable… FOR WAITING SO LONG!
What a great movie that is. First of all, it’s excellently and stylistically animated. I don’t know why that never gets touched on anymore in this day and age of CGI animation, but it should be. Just because the animation is CGI doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to be good. Secondly, Steve Carell does some of the best work of his career here as Gru, the lead character. His accent makes Boris Badinov’s seem subtle by comparison, but it’s ridiculous in a good way.
Gru is a villain who wants to raise his profile. Standing in his way is his rival villain, Vector, voiced by Jason Segel. In order to infiltrate Vector’s fortress, Gru adopts a trio of young girls who supply Vector with Cookies. Comedy ensues as the girls move in and cramp Gru’s bachelor/villain lifestyle, and of course, eventually steal his heart.
In, around and throughout are Gru’s minions, which are essentially Rayman’s Raving Rabbits without the ears. They’re funny enough, and cute at times, but such a big deal was made of them that I think I expected a little more, and wound up leaving the movie believing the true star was Gru.
In Gru’s quest to steal the Moon, and his battles with his Nemesis, there’s plenty of room for action sequences. And I have to say, they were all enjoyably executed. Seeing as I recently watched Cars 2 and panned that movie for being over-loaded with action, I suppose it’s worth noting that this movie’s action scenes work because a) They’re not the entirety of the movie b) There’s plenty of humor involved in each of them and finally c) We actually CARE about the characters involved in these scenes… that is, there’s STAKES.
Along the way there’s plenty of laughs for adults, from Carell’s hysterical performance to in-jokes that only adults would understand to nods to famous movies such as “The Godfather” and “Empire Strikes Back”. But most of all, I have to admit, it was heartwarming to watch the three little girls break Gru down and steal his heart. Just like the Grinch, I think I felt my heart grow in my chest at the end.
I’m not certain yet if it will wind up among my favorite animated films of all time, but if someone were to say to me that it was in theirs, I wouldn’t even blink.