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Despicable Me

A 2010 American computer-animated 3-D feature film.

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Impressive Debut Film in a Fiercely Competitive Arena

  • Mar 14, 2013
Rating:
+4
You sort of have to pull for Despicable Me regardless of whether or not you actually enjoyed the film. Why? Well because Illumination Entertainment, the company responsible for this work, did the impossible by knocking one out of the park their first time at bat. Founded in 2007, it's downright impressive they even managed to put out a feature length CGI film by 2010 of any quality! The feat becomes even more impressive once the quality of this one is revealed.

Additionally the film has managed to establish itself so firmly in the world's collective psyche that not only is a sequel in the works for 2013 but also a spin-off film based on the minions for the following year. Not bad at all for a firm with only three titles to its entire roster at present (the other two being a CG/ live action hybrid called Hop and a second full CG feature, Dr. Seuss' The Lorax).

But enough about Illumination and their meteoric rise to legitimate competition to industry heavy hitters Pixar, DreamWorks, Sony Imageworks and Blue Sky, you are surely reading this review to learn more about the movie itself. But before we get to that, consider Despicable Me's modest budget of $69-mil. If that sounds like a lot to you, the average budget of a modern CG feature from the likes of some of the companies mentioned above is roughly $150-million with some even dwarfing that amount (fellow 2010 CG entry Toy Story 3 cost a staggering $200-million for example). Obviously this makes Despicable Me's current gross of $543,113,985 even more impressive! Okay now I'm done talking about Illumination, honest.

Despicable Me tells the tale of a villain getting up there in years who is feeling the squeeze put on by young up and coming evil-doers like the smug & tech-crazy Vector. So as to one up Vector and raise the bar of villainy so high that no other baddie can ever compete, antagonist/ protagonist Gru hatches a scheme straight off the pages of a comic book: He'll steal the moon!

But to accomplish such a lofty ambition a little heist action is in order: Namely the stealing back of the shrink ray that Vector stole from Gru after he had stolen it initially. Confused yet? No need to strain your noodle, the plot is a straight forward through and through with a wide variety of visual goodies and far reaching shades of humor to be sure to get almost anyone giggling sooner or later.

Things get complicated for our pointy nosed, bald headed, sweater donning bad guy when his scheming requires that he adopt a trio of wide-eyed orphans. Lending his voice to the character of Gru is none other than The Office's Steve Carell with a surprisingly convincing European accent. The remainder of the cast is equally well selected and delivers above average vocal deliveries to compliment the solid visuals- Jason Segal as Vector, Julie Andrews as Gru's unlovable and unloving mom, and strangely appropriate Russell Brand as Gru's geriatric genius inventor Dr. Nefario.

However, and as you might expect, an animated version of Austin Powers' Dr. Evil is hardly going to obtain the type of marketability that you'd expect from a film trying to give Disney a run for its money but don't worry, Despicable Me has that covered in earnest as well in the form of the minions. While it's never actually made clear just what these little yellow capsules with safety goggles and overalls actually are in the film, the special features reveals that they are in fact small genetically engineered drones. The high-pitched nearly unintelligible banter is just the icing on the cute/ marketable cake. If additional films and theme park rides are any indication, mission accomplished.

The soundtrack & score are spectacular as well. Pharrell Williams provides an absolutely infectious blend of beat driven filler instrumentals and original hip-hop and R&B numbers.

Comparisons to DreamWorks' Megamind are all but inevitable and though pretty similar from afar, the fact is Megamind is more of a spoof on comic-book cliché/ superhero vs super-villainy not unlike Pixar's The Incredibles (just told from the bad guy's point of view). Despicable Me is more about the business of trying to make it in the world as a villain; completely doing away with the hero element altogether. At the risk of providing a little spoiler, this is a redemption tale at its core as well: The type where the goodness present in the human heart trumps even the sheer terror of wearing a gray turtleneck sweater with scarf and freezing everyone ahead of him into a block of ice in the line at the coffee shop.

In all, Despicable Me falls into the territory of a resounding success in just about every unit of measurement. The plot feels a tad bit more forced than the well-oiled machine that is Pixar (or DreamWorks of late) but for a new studio on an extremely limited budget, such complaints become increasingly insignificant. With an exclusive partnership with Universal Films, Illumination Entertainment has made it clear that they aren't going to be content competing with anything less than the absolute upper echelon of the genre. This, their first entry into the fold is 95-minutes well spent. Here's hoping we're treated to that inexplicably absent back-story of the minions in either of the forthcoming films in the series.
Impressive Debut Film in a Fiercely Competitive Arena Impressive Debut Film in a Fiercely Competitive Arena Impressive Debut Film in a Fiercely Competitive Arena Impressive Debut Film in a Fiercely Competitive Arena Impressive Debut Film in a Fiercely Competitive Arena

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March 17, 2013
Great review, this is a 5 star for me.
 
March 16, 2013
site is running a little slow, so I'll be back to read your other stuff....(sigh)
 
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More Despicable Me reviews
review by . July 11, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
3 ½ Stars: Ssoooo...Despicably CUTE and Adorable!
Warning: This Review is about an animated film that is so full of “CUTESY” Elements that it may be necessary to have a ‘hurl bucket’ handy. This review is also filled with ‘CUTE’ subliminal messages.      With 3D graphic technology in full swing and the box-office successes of animated films such as “How To Train Your Dragon”, “Shrek Forever After” and “Toy Story 3” has inspired a new wave of animated films …
review by . January 28, 2012
I usually feel distracted while watching an animated film. I rarely "want" to watch one. When I do view one I will because someone else is or very highly recommends it and hands me their copy. I had heard Despicable Me was adorable and funny etc. etc. about thirty times. But I waited quite awhile before renting it.     I was utterly charmed. Very Mad-Magazine spyesque with a sweet, sweet addition of charming, heart-warming characters to soften the despicability and cartoon violence …
review by . June 04, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**1/2 out of ****     "Despicable Me" is an animated feature in which weapons pop out within several seconds, little orphan girls are made somewhat cute, and evil minions are nothing short of resembling dimwitted corn-pops.     So right there, some good ideas were put into the product. The final result is energetic, family-friendly fun that has charm; but lacks the extra kick that could have earned it a total recommendation. With that being said, I would never …
review by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Despicable You? Maybe. Unimpressed Me? Definitely.
DESPICABLE ME   Written by Ken Daurio   Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud   Voices by Steve Carrell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand and Kristen Wiig      Gru: Good night, sleep tight.  Don’t let the bed bugs bite … because there are literally thousands of them … and there’s probably something in your closet too.      You’ve gotta love an imagined world where there are evil super villains …
review by . January 16, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Our alter-egos
It’s good entertainment this week, if animation could be wicked, that is!      Gru reminds me of Michael J. Fox in Family Ties; arrogant but lovable. Then there are also moments of Batman Begins, Matrix Revolutions, Star Wars, James Bond 007, Honey, I shrunk the kids, Mrs. Doubtfire & Saturday Night Fever (the altered dimension of them all, that is)!         There’s a lot of humor in this one, perfect for a Sunday afternoon!  …
Quick Tip by . June 27, 2011
posted in The Family Room
Caption
I broke my word.   : (   I swore an oath that I would not watch any more computer animated movies, but I couldn't help it... this one was just sooooo CUTE!      The film tells the story of Gru, a neglected boy who failed to win the approval of his mother as a child and grew up to be the world's greatest villain, and his attempt to pull of the greatest theft in villain history: the Moon. However, things begin to go awry when a younger, sassier, and …
review by . November 25, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
4 stars: I've got problems how 'bout you? I want to be the number one villians do you?
In almost all films with superheroes or heroes,   the most interesting character is not the hero but the evil, demented mad man he is trying to stop. I can name more than ten villains off the top of my head that are far more fascinating than the hero who is trying to stop him The Joker is far more fascinating than Batman; Brainiac is more fascinating than Superman is. The Green Goblin is more fascinating than Spider-Man the list goes on and on and on and on In the …
Quick Tip by . March 16, 2011
The soundtrack to this movie made it so much better. The movie itself is OK, but make sure to check out the soundtrack!
review by . September 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   I’m not usually that picky with it comes to animation. Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs all got a 5 out of 5 from me. While How To Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3 were amazing feats of film-making in their own respects, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs struck a different cord in me. The movie had the same humor style of a lot of the cartoons I grew up with like the greater days of Spongebob, having this goofy style of humor that’s …
Quick Tip by . November 25, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Caption
With action thrillers with hardcore violence, strong sexuality and pervasive language come out on a regular basis there is one bright hope that glimmers in the distance, animated films, animated films have been the corner stone of filmmaking since the late 30's to the early 90's. The greatest production company on the planet to ever produce and make such fine has always been the Disney Corporation and its property Pixar when they made there splash in 1995 with the timeless classic "Toy …
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Ranked #12
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on Amazon.com) is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing.      … more
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Wiki

Despicable Me is a 2010 American computer-animated 3-D feature film from Universal Studios and Illumination Entertainment that was released on July 9, 2010 in the USA. The film stars Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, and Miranda Cosgrove.

  • In a happy suburban neighborhood surrounded by white picket fences with flowering rose bushes, sits a black house with a dead lawn. Unbeknownst to the neighbors, hidden beneath this home is a vast secret hideout. Surrounded by a small army of minions, we discover Gru, planning the biggest heist in the history of the world. He is going to steal the moon (Yes, the moon!). Gru delights in all things wicked. Armed with his arsenal of shrink rays, freeze rays, and battle-ready vehicles for land and air, he vanquishes all who stand in his way. Until the day he encounters the immense will of three little orphaned girls who look at him and see something that no one else has ever seen: a potential Dad. The world's greatest villain has just met his greatest challenge: three little girls named Margo, Edith and Agnes.
  • Cast: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand

  • Poster Art for "Despicable Me."
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    Details

    Genre: Animation
    Release Date: July 09, 2010
    MPAA Rating: G
    Runtime: 95 minutes
    Studio: Universal Pictures
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