Thursday, July 15, 2010

Review - Despicable Me

With its combination of slapstick humour and cloying cuteness, kids will probably get a kick out of Despicable Me. Anyone over the age of ten, however, will find it seldom funny and often annoying.
Gru (Steve Carell doing his best Gorbachev imitation) is an underachieving super villain who dreams of shrinking down and stealing the moon – possibly to gain the attention of his impossible-to-please mother. In order to pilfer a shrink ray from rival villain Vector, Gru adopts three orphan girls (Elsie Fisher, Dana Gaier, and Miranda Crosgrove, the latter of whom is way too old to play her character convincingly) and has them sell cookies to his nemesis, thus granting him access to Vector's stronghold. Gru then wants nothing more than to rid himself of the overbearingly adorable (see: "obnoxious") trio, but wouldn'tchya know it, he starts to grow attached to them.

None of the characters in this lazily written pablum are fully realized or relatable. The only empathy I could feel for Gru is that those three brats got on my nerves just as much as they did his. It didn't have to be that way. The premise is solid, but mishandled. Potential arcs that could have been made sweet and endearing are truncated and unsatisfying due to the film's lack of focus. What's worse is that the elements that have diverted the filmmakers from character development aren't all that much fun anyway. The action is disappointing, and the sight gags are too easy to see coming. The best thing about the movie is its merciful brevity (a quick 90 minutes).

Despicable Me won't even have an outside chance at an Oscar nomination unless there are enough cartoons this year to expand the Animated Feature field to five nominees. Even then, the Animation branch is still more likely to spring for a foreign oddity than this, like The Secret of Kells getting in over Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs last year.

*1/2 out of ****

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