This CG Animated movie, together with “How to Train your Dragon” is further proof that Pixar now has competition at the highest level. Not there yet perhaps but not as far behind as many efforts used to be.
Steve Carell voices “Gru”, a super-villian in the James Bond or Dr Evil mold. His day to day evilness is demonstrated by stealing replica landmarks whilst attempting to make the Bank of Evil, signposted “formerly Lehman Brothers”, appreciate the return on their investment.
The bank are pressing for more spectacular larceny events and Gru quite literally promises them the moon, using a shrink ray gun to make it more manageable and then bringing it home, what could be easier?
Unfortunately for Gru, there are several flaws in this outlandish plan. He does not have a Shrink Ray, which is currently in the possession of his much younger and more successful nemesis, “Vector” (Segel). His behind the scenes boffin De Nefario (Russell Brand) is hard of hearing and frankly a bit hopeless. Finally, his assistants are multitudes of minions who look like “Spongebob” cast offs, cute and obedient but generally a bit useless for achieving world domination.
Needing to break into Victors impregnable fortress, Gru adopts three adorable children from the girls home, Margo, Edith & Agnes, employing them as his Trojan or My Little Pony horse, whilst ostensibly selling cookies door to door.
Obviously Gru is a mean uber villain who likes to make balloon puppies and burst them after he gives them to children. From this start point, he has an interesting and extensive character arc to follow if he is to become a doting parent by the end of the film. His journey is predictable but fun and rather touching towards the end. Not Toy Story 3 blubbing perhaps but you do get to care about the characters.
The animation is excellent, this is almost a given in CG films now. There is some excellent use of both new and old music, the characters are almost caricatures in appearance but that approach works really well.
The film does cater more for younger children and there is less depth and complexity for adults to discover, however there are very few popular culture references and the nastiness of Gru is fun to watch.
Agnes asks for a bedtime story with huge cow like eyes, “No” Gru confirms and slams the door.
Edith accidentally falling into a closing “Iron Maiden” only for a trickle of what turns out to be Blackberry Juice to appear, is not what you would see in most children stories.
Carrell has fun with a rather bizarre eastern European “Igor” type voice and Brand’s distinctive tones work well in the film as the haphazard boffin Dr Nefarious.
Good fun, does not take itself too seriously and does not outstay it’s welcome. 2010 has been a good year for CG animation and continues an amazing run of success for the genre.
A decent rival to Pixar’s consistent output, great fun for children and with enough adult material to keep an older audience entertained.