Since 2001’s Shrek, there hasn’t been an animated movie to beat Pixar’s quality in storytelling and animation quality. Some might argue that Happy Feet would be another, but who’s ever talked about that movie in the years after its release? It stole the Oscar from Cars and just doesn’t have any staying power. Some have also argued that 2010 has been the year of the kid’s movie, with many saying that Toy Story 3 is the best movie of the year to date. I will go out on a limb and say that Despicable Me is the first film since Shrek to match Pixar’s exceptional quality, and is better than Toy Story 3.
Promotions for Despicable Me started as early as last summer with the funny trailer of the kid bouncing off of the pyramids in Egypt. Preceding the title page was the list of the actors providing the voice cast: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Kristin Wiig, Russell Brand, Danny McBride, Will Arnett, and JULIE ANDREWS. My interest was piqued.
Despicable Me is really more than the trailers suggested. It’s about a supervillian named Gru (Steve Carell, doing a very funny Russian accent) who is ousted from the #1 Supervillian status by newcomer Vector (Jason Segel). In his passionate attempt to regain his powerful status, he needs to steal a shrink ray from Vector in order to pull off the ultimate theft: He wants to steal the moon.
Gru discovers Vector’s penchant for cookies and spies three wide-eyed orphan girls who are selling them to raise money for their orphanage. To get into Vector’s elaborately booby-trapped home, Gru adopts the three girls. The miserly supervillian doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into. It is truly heartwarming to see this grumpy man deal with trying to raise three young girls, dealing with childhood issues of his own inflicted by his disapproving mother (Julie Andrews, although you’d never know it was her), and evolving into a good father, while still attempting to pull off the world’s greatest heist.
Those minions you’ve seen in advertising? They’re around too. They live in Gru’s expansive basement and provide most of the comedic relief in the film. I was worried they would be annoying, but they really are very funny. If you see this film in 3-D, you absolutely must stay after the credits for a very amusing poke at 3-D gags featuring the minions.
The story really seems to be one that Pixar would dream up and execute. It’s fanciful fun, and doesn’t feature any of the obnoxious pop culture references that the Shrek sequels suffer from. So if it didn’t come from Pixar or Dreamworks, where did Despicable Me come from? Nowhere, it seems. Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud have almost nothing on their resumes. Screenwriter Ken Daurio has written College Road Trip and Bubble Boy, and the story comes from writing newbie Sergio Pablos. But the film is released by Universal, with Illumination Entertainment, a studio who hasn’t contributed to the recent animation boom.
I saw Despicable Me at a screening before I saw Toy Story 3. Since it’s release, there have been several confessions by men who have admitted to crying in Toy Story 3. Maybe it’s because I’m a mother, but I’ll admit I got teary during Despicable Me. Pixar just didn’t evoke those emotions from me this time around. Toy Story 3 is excellent, don’t get me wrong; it currently sits with a 99% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. If Despicable Me is the caliber of film we are to expect from this new studio collaboration – whose other projects include a Where’s Waldo movie and a stop motion Addams Family movie directed by Tim Burton – then I will be eagerly awaiting their next release. Pixar watch out. Your competition is officially Illumination Entertainment and Universal.
Director: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud Notable Cast: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Kristin Wiig, Julie Andrews Writer(s): Ken Daurio, Sergio Pablos
Jenny is proud to be the First Lady of Inside Pulse Movies. She gives female and mommy perspective, and has two kids who help with rating family movies. (If they don't like 'em, what's the point?) She prefers horror movies to chick flicks, and she can easily hang with the guys as long as there are several frou-frou girlie drinks to be had.