While traveling for business I managed to catch the new animated sensation, Despicable Me. I saw it last week and just never got around to writing it up which, pretty much, foretells how that’s going to go.
Despicable Me is another in a growing list of major animated films in 2010. This one focuses on an aging villain named Gru who’s been sitting on his laurels enjoying the fruits of a lifetime of evil labor. He’s happy to go about each day very much as a typical short-tempered grumpy older man treating people with total disregard and as a impediments to his daily desires.
His contentment ends suddenly when an upstart villain steals the headlines and threatens his legacy. It’s this challenge that awakens the waning embers of Gru’s past fire causing him to round up his minions and plan the greatest heist of all-time.
Suddenly into the story appear three young girls from a local orphanage. The girls are pushed by an evil orphanage caretaker to sell cookies door-to-door. Of course when they show up on Gru’s doorstep he dismisses them at once as nothing more than another distraction. However, that soon changes when he realizes these three girls possess something he desires—access to the inner lair of the upstart villain (who happens to like their cookies). Gru decides to take them in as a foster parent only to use them for their timely access.
The movie is mildly entertaining but mostly a forgettable affair. The biggest problem with it is that, quite frankly, Gru just isn’t very despicable. His worst offenses revolve around blowing past others on highways and being a bit rude here and there. In the end we’re supposed to have our emotions tugged at how this cold-hearted villain is melted by the actions of the three girls. That attempt is heavily blunted by Gru’s paper-thin evil veneer. We never really believe he’s all that bad to begin with. The caretaker is more despicable than Gru.
There are a few nice laughs and a few interesting scenes but it doesn’t really work as a complete package. Be forewarned that the film also includes many blatantly obvious scenes designed specifically for 3D effect. This stands out heavily when seen in 2D, as I did, and I felt a bit short-changed as a result.