Sunday, June 30, 2013

Seeing Is Believing Movie Reviews: "Despicable Me" (2010)

Believe it or not, this is my first time viewing “Despicable Me,” even after so many people I know telling me how good it was. I’ll admit, when I first saw the trailer, I felt like I could predict exactly what would happen. And really, when you know what’s going to occur, why watch it?

Yet, much to my surprise, there were several things that kept me on my toes, mostly done through some of the clever ideas and additions that come out of nowhere. I will admit right off the bat, that I do not regret watching this movie.

Upon someone stealing the great pyramid, super-villain Gru (Steve Carell) is now more motivated than ever to perform the greatest heist by stealing the moon. In order to get funding to achieve such a task, Gru must steal a shrink ray from another villain, Victor (Jason Segal).

After witnessing three little orphaned girls entering Victor’s fortress, Gru decides to recruit these three by adopting them.

As you can imagine, hijinks ensue and Gru must figure out how to balance his plan to steal the moon while learning to be a father for these girls.

Right away, the story isn’t immediately pulling me in. As I mentioned, the trailer tells you every major event of the film. As such, the plot is rather predictable and doesn’t try to do anything too risky. It’s your basic “family vs. work” personal story.

What pushes this film past that calculable story are many of the ideas that it has within the world that it sets up. In particular, the idea of villains and the role that they serve. In this world, “Villain” is apparently a chosen profession. They don’t rule the world, presumably because there are so many of them competing against one another. They just want power and recognition, and really who doesn’t want that?

Not only that, but it goes against the traditional “hero vs. villain” ideology by removing the hero. This world is full of super-villains, but no sign of super-heroes. There is hardly anything stopping these villains from their schemes besides other villains and their own incompetence. This is something that I’ve never quite seen before and it’s an interesting idea to think about: How would the world be different if there was only Lex Luthor or the Joker, but no Superman or Batman?

Also, like so many others, I think the idea of the Minions is both cute and interesting. Each one of those little yellow guys feels wholly unique and they lead to some of the best comedy in the entire film. As a collective, they’re probably the most interesting character in the film in how they will do anything their master tells them, but still find ways to screw it up in the most adorable way.

If I had a complaint about these ideas in “Despicable Me” it would be that they really aren’t explored enough. Things like the super-villain filled world and the Minions really are the driving force of the film, and it comes off like they don’t do nearly enough with them. 

We only get to see about three or four super-villains in the film, when the world is supposedly full of them. What are some other villains like? What do ordinary people think of them? How is the government handling the villains? Is there even a government, or have the villains taken that over? What are some of the other big events villains have pulled off?

These are just some of the questions that the film could have explored in more detail and would have led to an even greater world and understanding of how it works. Yet, the film doesn’t really address any of them. It’s a little disappointing, given that the idea of villain-ruled world is a great concept.

Maybe “Despicable Me 2” and the upcoming “Minions” film will address these ideas in more detail and give us a better idea of the world that Gru inhabits. As it stands though, what “Despicable Me” does with these unique ideas can be a bit underwhelming.

As for the comedy, it’s pretty standard. They play it safe with comedy and try to not do anything too out of the ordinary, which is fine. I wouldn’t expect them to pull a “Ren & Stimpy” with it and do something too far-fetched. There were moments that I giggled at, but nothing too up-roaring. 

If I had to describe “Despicable Me” in one word, it would be “cute.” The minions, the animation style, the three little girls, Gru’s childhood dream of being an astronaut and several moments where Gru develops attachments to his children all scream of cuteness. Moments to make the audience let out a collective “awww.” To be fair, the film does a great job at doing that multiple times. If you’re looking for the cutest group of tiny creatures with big doughy eyes and huge grins, look no further.

All in all, “Despicable Me” kept my attention with its cuteness and unique ideas of super-villains, even if there was so much more that could have been done with it. It has good comedy, good characters and even if the story was predictable it was still effective. Certainly worth checking out at least once.

Final Grade: C+

No comments: