Despicable Me Reviews
Gru, a supervillain who dreamed of stealing the moon since childhood, adopts three orphaned girls to execute his grand scheme. As the film unfolds, we see why the cold exoskeleton of this world-class criminal was formed: a lifelong search for his mother's approval. And as LED frequencies illuminate my son in slack-jawed awe, I wonder briefly why I've allowed us to spend one of our precious moments together in front of a screen.
As I chew over a microcosm of my parenting, the film trails this paradigm-shifting heist and I find in the plot a deeper reason to the evening's entertainment. The subversion of reality makes it both preposterous and worthwhile to put critical thought into the plot of Despicable Me, the first collaboration between Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin. In 2010 they turned Sergio Pablo's storyline into $500 million profit and launched the first film of the Despicable Me franchise. I can't help but look with excitement into my son's future, a place where creative visions become wellsprings of wealth with just the right combination of vision, collaboration, and discipline. I want him to learn that he is not a consumer of culture but a producer of it, and that relaxation can include critical thought. I jot down notes while he reaches for popcorn.
Abstraction plays a crucial role in problem solving. By humanizing the characters typically presented as villains, the film proposes that there are no bad people, just bad actions. And the simplicity of this value holds transformative power for many issues we face in the "real world." Perhaps - between popcorn and tooth - a kernel of truth slips in, too.
I know, we're talking about a kids movie here, not an Oscar-nominee. Kids movies are supposed to be filled with highly-imaginative characters and insane fun. This movie not only harbors both, but doesn't ruin the aforementioned message in the process. After a short, fun scene in Egypt, you're quickly introduced to Gru, powerful supervillain bent on performing the greatest heist of all time. It doesn't take long to realize how big of a bad guy he really is. He's a jerk, but he's a fun kind of jerk a la the first Iron Man. He's aided in his conquests by the old and clever Dr. Nefario, but primarily by his little minions. There's so much going on with the minions even when there's only a handful on screen at a time. I've watched this movie multiple times now and still manage to find new things happening in the background that freshly entertain me. Despite their hilarious heroics, little Agnes steals the show.
Agnes is one of three sisters who live in what appears to be an orphanage. Not giving away too much, Gru decides to adopt them in his efforts to complete his grand heist. Seeing the interactions between a hermit and three vibrants kids had me cracking up and anxious to see what kind of craziness would ensue next. Agnes is the type of you kid you always want around because they're so cute, but you have to watch with three eyes because they're so unpredictable.
It's the story of two worlds when it comes to animated movies. Because you have artists capturing the perfect shots at the perfect time, it should be easy to do an animated movie well. Unfortunately, there are some cases where these movies focus too much on trying to get a little kid to laugh and not so much on quality which would actually appease an entire audience, old and young. Despicable Me never falls victim to that mistake. In fact, it goes in quite the opposite direction doing almost everything right. It's the kind of movie I'll be watching for years to come still loving it like it was the first time. I give it a 98.