Despicable Me (2010)
Directed by: Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin
Written by: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio, Sergio Pablos
Starring: Danny McBride, Jason Segel, Julie Andrews, Kristen Wiig, Russell Brand, Steve Carell
In a happy suburban neighbourhood surrounded by white picket fences with flowering rose bushes, sits a black house with a dead lawn. Unbeknownst to the neighbours, hidden beneath this home is a vast secret hideout inhabited by supervillain Gru and his countless identical Minions. Gru, after being thwarted in his plan to steal the pyramids by a competitor in the villain stakes called Vector, plans something even bolder -the stealing of the moon, the biggest heist in the history of the world. Then one day he finds himself looking after three orphaned girls who see him as a potential Dad…………..
Universal’s first entry in the crowded market of CG animated films [oh how I wish that The Princess And The Frog had been more successful and ushered in a return to hand-drawn animated movies, but never mind!] manages to succeed in almost every way. It’s charming without being corny, hilarious without relying on pop-culture references [there are a few, but that’s all we need], and both original and cliched [in the best possible way, you look forward to the beats of the story and they all deliver] at the same time. With one section actually having the Moon being stolen, there’s a real madcap sense of inventiveness in this movie, from the various things the children encounter in Gru’s house to the different ways his minions seem to be unintentionally dispatched [some of the funniest bits here], plus just a shade of darkness, with one great gag involving a girl in an iron maiden and blood leaking out which seemed to get some people all hot and bothered when the film came out. These people forget that kids love this sort of thing [i.e.Roald Dahl, of which this film has more than a flavour of] and it is good for them, while the tone still veers towards the light hearted for the most part anyway. Despite this, the more sappy elements of the story, mostly revolving around Gru’s growing fondness of the kids, do work and may raise a tear or two towards the end [I plead guilty]. Slyly subversive, yet with all the fun you should expect from a film of this kind, this is the best animated film of 2010, and also probably the best comedy, despite the fact that Russell Brand does one of the voices!