Despicable Me Review
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So far, it’s been a pretty mediocre year for movies. Sure, there have been a handful of hits—but there have been far more disappointments. Fortunately, though, while many of the year’s most anticipated releases have left adult audiences cold, kids have been treated to fun family-friendly adventures—like the fanciful How to Train Your Dragon, Pixar’s brilliant Toy Story 3, and now Despicable Me, a quirky animated comedy that’s sometimes sinister and sometimes oh-so-sweet.

It hasn’t been easy being a villain lately. No matter how hard he and his team of Minions may try, Gru (Steve Carell) can’t seem to make his mark as a real evil genius. Granted, he’s pretty nasty—and even downright despicable at times—but there’s just so much competition. Gru’s latest rival, for instance, is Vector (Jason Segel), a seemingly incompetent rookie who just managed to steal the Great Pyramid.

  
 
To compete with Vector, Gru decides to steal the moon using a powerful shrink ray. But when Vector steals Gru’s newly-stolen shrink ray, their rivalry turns to all-out war. To get the shrink ray back, Gru has to take advantage of Vector’s greatest weakness: cookies. So he adopts three adorable cookie-selling orphans to help him with his evil plan. But those three little orphan girls soon start to make him rethink his evil ways.

With its simple story and its silly sense of humor, Despicable Me isn’t exactly in the same league as this summer’s animated powerhouse, Toy Story 3. Really, it isn’t even playing the same game. Pixar’s latest is more mature—with fewer fart jokes and more subtle humor than the usual kids’ movie. It’s a masterpiece of animation. Despicable Me, on the other hand, is more cartoonish and kooky, with a wacky sense of humor that will keep audiences giggling from beginning to end. It isn’t the kind of animated film that leaves you awed and breathless. It isn’t the kind of movie that wins boatloads of prestigious awards. It’s simply the kind of animated movie that makes you laugh out loud. And that’s good enough for me.

Despicable Me is loaded with lovable (and lovably odd) characters—like Gru, who tries so hard to be bad, and Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), the brilliant but bumbling scientist whose amusing inventions are never exactly what Gru was expecting. Even Gru’s band of sweet but dim-witted Minions will grow on you sooner or later.

Still, despite the evil characters’ entertaining antics, the little orphan girls quickly steal the show—especially sweet little Agnes (Elsie Fisher), who’s willing to give Gru a shot at being their dad, no matter how creepy he may be. Though Agnes gets the most memorable (and quote-worthy) lines, each of the three girls has her own unique personality—and they’re all so adorably precocious that they’re guaranteed to melt even the darkest and foulest of hearts.

Sure, Despicable Me may not have a brilliant story—and its humor may not be particularly high-brow. But kids (and, yes, parents, too!) will love its quirky characters and its over-the-top laughs. So if this summer’s second-rate thrillers have you searching for some silly, sinister fun, pass up the vampires and werewolves and try this crazy crowd-pleaser instead.


Blu-ray Review:
Fans of this surprise summer hit will find a whole lot more to love on the film’s three-disc Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo release—starting with three new silly short movies, featuring the lovably bumbling Minions. The best of the bunch, though, is Home Makeover—because it features the Minions and the girls.

The disc also includes a number of making-of features. The longer two (around 15 minutes each) go into detail about the story, the sets, and the cast—but there are also two shorter, more manageable features (around three minutes each). Despicable Beats discusses the film’s music with artist/composer Pharrell Williams. And It’s a Global Effort is an interesting short feature that shows how the film was made internationally—with animators in Paris and other cast and crew members in various locations around the world.

In addition to the typical features, though—the behind-the-scenes stuff and an amusing commentary with the directors and the Minions—there are other quirky surprises. There are two games—one featuring carnival-style games and another, more educational, game that teaches players about world landmarks. You’ll also find Miss Hattie’s Top Secret Cookie Recipes—real recipes for cookies that sound irresistibly yummy. I’m not entirely sure how I’ll get the recipes from my Blu-ray player to my kitchen, but I definitely intend to try them out.

There’s plenty to explore on the Despicable Me Blu-ray release—though not all of the features will appeal to all viewers. As is often the case with Blu-ray games, the games here aren’t always the easiest to control—and not everyone will be interested in the making-of features. But don’t miss the three short films for more silly fun from the film’s lovable characters.

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