Friday, January 24, 2014
Short Cut Movie Review: Despicable Me
A Short Cut Movie Review is normally less than 400 words, but in some cases may go slightly over. This is my attempt to keep writing about as many films as I see without getting bogged down with trying to find more to say. They are meant to be brief snapshots of my reaction to a movie without too much depth.
I’m a little angry at myself for skipping Despicable Me in 2010 which meant I skipped its sequel last year. Despicable Me is a charming and oftentimes very funny little animated comedy written by Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio, and Sergio Pablos, about a nefarious world villain named Gru, whose lifelong goal is to steal the moon. He’s a little upset that someone recently stunned the world by stealing one of the Great Pyramids of Giza.
Steve Carell gives Gru voice and life and a thick Eastern European which, along with his long thin legs and arms, and a bird-beaked nose, shares common ground with Count Orlock, the first screen representation of Dracula. He lives in a dark gothic house on an otherwise quiet suburban street (one of many amusing sight gags that directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud throw in) and in his basement is his secret lair where Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), his very own version of Q, provides the gadgets he needs and hundreds of hilarious little minions scurry around doing his bidding. The minions are brilliant little creations. They look like giant pills with limbs, some have two eyes and others just one, but they all speak in a hilarious mumbly language that sounds almost like an LP played at forty-five RPMs.
Where does the money for an operation like this come from? The evil bank, of course, which would like him to steal a shrink ray gun before getting the funding to steal the moon. His nemesis, Vector (Jason Segel), keeps getting in the way. But Gru adopts three little girls from a local orphanage run by Miss Hattie (Kristin Wiig), a sweet Soutern-accented belle who threatens the girls with the “box of shame” if they misbehave or fail to sell their quota of cookies. Of course at first he’s using the girls to gain access to Vector’s house, but you can see pretty early on that it will lead to a change of heart and values. It’s not as emotionally fulfilling as some other recent animated film, but the animation is as good as anything I’ve seen and I suppose there are worse messages than the fact that a man can find fulfillment through alternative means outside of his career.