Despicable Me (2010).

D: Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud. W: Ken Daurio & Cinco Paul. Starring (voice talents): Steve Carell/Jason Segel/Russell Brand/Julie Andrews/Will Arnett/Kristin Wiig/Miranda Cosgrove/Dana Gaier/Elsie Fisher/Pierre Coffin/Chris Renaud/Jemaine Clement.

Joining the ranks of summer animated features is Illumination Entertainment and Universal’s new venture, Despicable Me. Sporting a witty preview and wonderful use of actor Steve Carell’s voice, will this film survive the competition?

Firstly, Despicable Me is everything it should be. Fresh, clever, and thankfully focusing on the wanna-be villains rather than the wanna-be super-heroes that stammered through theaters this spring. The film roots itself in Gru, voiced by Carell, who was never good enough for his strict mother (voiced by Andrews) and develops his obsession with being the perfect villain. Of course this means Gru is not interested in petty theft or vandalism, but rather beating out his competition in Segal’s Vector. Ultimately, this competition leads Gru to attempt to steal the moon, but somehow steals some hearts along the way.

Part of his moon stealing operation includes the use of this leagues of minions. Small, yellow, egg shaped guys whose language can hardly be understood, but provides much of the physical comedy of the film. Gru even knows all their names! Yet it is really the three young girls Gru adopts to complete his mission that are the true heart of the film. Darling, independent, and full of energy these three sisters are relieved to leave their horrible orphanage to live with Gru, but he is, of course, nothing like he seems. Yet their relationships with their new father figure are the true heart of the film. Littered with adorable moments of sweetness, the only regret is that most of the humor was given away in the previews.

The only unfortunate thing is that, much like Toy Story 3 which was released a couple of weeks prior, is that it doesn’t quite use its 3D elements as well as it could. Although better than the Pixar/Disney film in this capacity, the 3D still doesn’t make an impression. Yet it is fantastic to see an original animated film coming from a new venue. So that whether or not the film is for you, Despicable Me will reaffirm to audiences of what invention and creativity can bring outside of expected outposts.

Lastly, the look of the film itself is quite different than others out this summer. Without any sense of fantasy, the film looks more like a feature length cartoon as many aspects are accentuated with more of an artistic flare than a realistic one. Gru looks like a man on stilts next to Vector in his yellow one-sie looking outfit. Despicable Me is pure silliness. But, its more than that as the film makes its own look within a plausible world. A world most audiences will be happy they visited.

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