Anthony's Film Review
Despicable Me (2010)
A funny and heartwarming family movie that combines two stories in interesting ways...
In any kind of story, it's always interesting to see evil villains who cause trouble. But it can get boring if all the villains you see are one-dimensional baddies who are nothing but evil. This is why it's more interesting to see characters who are more complex villains, like people who have gone from good to evil or evil people who are sympathetic. Now let's imagine this scenario. What if a villainous character may, in fact, have enough of a heart to be a decent human being, perhaps enough to be somewhat turned around?
The 2010 animated film Despicable Me presents this kind of character, in the form of a Russian supervillain named Gru, voiced by Steve Carell. He's a megalomaniac for sure, having stolen big things like the Times Square jumbotron. He also has a secret headquarters underneath his suburban home, with many short yellow creatures called Minions doing all the work necessary to carry out his schemes. With all of this, Gru is satisfied with his life as the world's greatest villain. That is, until a rival supervillain named Vector, voiced by Jason Segel, steals one of the Pyramids of Giza and puts Gru to shame.
The only way Gru can get back his villainous glory is to top that scheme. To do that, he plans to steal the Moon. That's right, the Moon. Of course, he can't steal it as it's really huge, but he can, however, use a shrink ray to miniaturize the Moon before snatching it. Now, if you think that's outrageous, consider what happens next. Gru has to retrieve the shrink ray from Vector, and to do that, he needs to make some little robots disguised as cookies, then have three little orphan girls sell them to Vector. However, in order to do that, Gru goes as far as to become a foster father and adopt the girls as his own daughters. All of this sounds stupid, but it actually isn't once you watch the movie and see how those parts are connected.
What happens is a funny and touching story about a man who wants to carry out his evil scheme while having to deal with the complications of raising three adopted daughters. There is one humorous moment where Gru is finally able to take the girls out to sell cookies door-to-door, but the girls don't want to sell to Vector right away because they want to go through the customer list in alphabetical order. Other amusing scenes include more conflicts between the desire to succeed in the evil scheme and the need to keep the girls happy, and the little goofy things the Minions do that you can't help but laugh at.
After a certain point, something changes. You can't help but care more about the girls than about stealing the Moon. Then things change again, when you follow both storylines with equal interest. The finale is the kind you see in good character-based stories, where the main character has to choose one thing over the other. It's also an amusing sequence because there is excitement, cleverness, and emotion all mixed in. And it ends quite nicely.
This is a somewhat quick 90-minute movie, but it's definitely a good one. It's always interesting for a story to combine two things that have seldom been combined before. As this movie shows, a story about being a villain and a story about being a father can work in tandem, if it's written with heart and humor. The result is a family film that is certainly funny and heartwarming. Kids and adults alike will love the adventures of Gru, his girls, and the little Minions that have endless ways to be silly and make us chuckle.
For more information about Despicable Me, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of Despicable Me 2 and Despicable Me 3, plus the spinoff prequel Minions.