Friday, 09 July 2010

Despicable Me and the Plot to Steal the Moon

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Despicable MeFor parents interested in a pleasant way to pass the afternoon with their children, consider newly released Despicable Me (that is, if Toy Story 3 is not an option). Characterized by warmth, humor, and even some insight into the human psyche, Despicable Me is a winner.

Gru, played by the loveable Steve Carrell, is a failed villain desperate to make a name for himself. Unfortunately, he finds himself in competition with a significantly younger nefarious villain, Vector (Jason Segel).

When Gru formulates a plot to steal the moon, however, he believes that he will finally memorialize himself. That is, if he can nab from Vector the necessary machinery to shrink the moon.

Recognizing that Vector is a far more experienced villain than he, Gru enlists the aid of three little girl orphans, whom he will use to enter into Vector’s fortress under the guise of selling cookies. While distracted, Gru will attempt to claim what he believed was rightfully his: the shrinker, and a reputation as a frightful villain.

Does he succeed? You’ll need to fork up the $10 to find out ... or simply wait for the DVD.

Predictably, Gru falls in love with the three little girls, who manage to change his heart and his life in a short time.  Gru learns that he had a void in his heart, without having known it, and the girls bring a new meaning to his life, one that he never thought to seek.

The girls, on the other hand, were desperate for a family, especially after a difficult stay at the orphanage with the detestable Miss Hattie (Kristen Wiig).

Interestingly, Despicable Me offers some psychological explanation for Gru’s villainous ways. As he devises his plans, viewers are provided flashbacks of Gru’s childhood, characterized by a nagging mother (Julie Andrews), who fails to give Gru the love and attention he so desperately sought. It becomes clear from the start that with just a bit more nurturing, Gru could have been saved from a life of evil.

True to life, however, Gru’s mother nearly rectifies her mistakes through the attentive adoration she offers to Gru’s adopted orphans — nearly.

The relationship between Gru and his mother, and the effects of that relationship on Gru as shown in the film, were profound for a kid’s movie.

Many of the characters in the film can be called “despicable,” but all with redeeming qualities. Gru transforms from a wannabe antagonist to a charming protagonist, and even his little yellow minions, along with his partner in crime, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), are willingly converted from villains to heroes.

Endearing from the start are the three little girls, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher). Margo takes on a maternal role for the younger girls, though the relationship among the three children is unspecified. If nothing else, they’ve become a family through a shared sense of loneliness and heartache. Edith is a bit of a tomboy, with a taste for morbidity and adventure. Agnes, with her big beautiful eyes, has the power to bring any evildoer to his knees.

Despicable Me is a humorous film capable of provoking laughter from adults and children alike. Steve Carrell’s accent and occasional broken English are positively comical. Dr. Nefario’s poor hearing leads to some pretty hilarious mix-ups.  The minions utilize slapstick comedy, appealing to the younger audiences.

Unfortunately, there is some rude humor, including gastrointestinal jokes, in the film. That,  plus unrealistic violence similar to that found in Tom and Jerry cartoons, explains Despicable Me's  PG rating. Overall, however, the film is certainly worth at least the matinee price.

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