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Bald and looming, with a long bladelike nose, Despicable Meís allegedly despicable anti-hero, Gru resembles the Aadams Familyís Uncle Fester if cartoonist Charles Aadams had been a CGI animator.  Even his Gothic purple lair, sticking out like a hangnailed thumb in the middle of the suburbs would make Morticia and Gomez proud.  Gruís outrageous behaviour in the face of domestic banality lends credence to his reputation as a super villain par excellence.  Even so, the wheels of time are threatening to roll over Gru; his previous exploits just arenít up to scratch compared to the younger, hungrier bad guys coming up behind him.  What can he do to compete?

One part Spy vs. Spy, one large part Pixar and another part Annie if Daddy Warbucks was a sociopathic criminal, Despicable Me tells the story of what lengths one evil genius will go to to stay on top, even if those lengths require adopting three adorable children.  Convoluted?  Yes, indeed. The plot contrivance is laboured, but then so is the rest of Despicable Me.  A joyless, uninventive, missed opportunity to do something far more interesting than tell an utterly predictable story about family love, even when itís not the family youíre born with.  The script is lifeless and Gruís guaranteed-to-amuse, cutesy, amorphous yellow sidekicks grow tiresome after a very short while.  The whole proceedings become wearisome once you realise how very much is pilfered from previous Pixar pictures.  Thereís the cheerful yellow minionsí resemblance to Toy Storyís happy little Buzz-loving Martians.  The youngest of the three moppets that Gru adopts and inevitably falls head over paternal heels for is a hackneyed version of Monsters Inc.ís Boo.  Even the villainís villain, Vector, is an incredibly lazy rehash of Syndrome from The Incredibles; the normal guy with a big ego and an axe (- or in this case, a piranha gun) to grind.  In other rip-offs (- the movie is about people who steal, after all), the head of the Bank of Evil, responsible for keeping Gru from achieving his greatest caper, the theft of the moon, is a dead ringer for the pointy-haired boss from the comic strip Dilbert.  Actually, because financial institutions are clearly the true malevolence in the world, the only real laugh in the film comes when we see the shingle for the Bank of Evil, formerly Lehman Brothers.  Would that there were more truly witty moments like this throughout the film.  The inclusion of the three little orphans and the filmís subsequent predictability makes this a soggy cereal and the lack of cleverness is unfortunate because thereís certainly the possibility for more.  The voice acting by Steve Carrell as the Russian-ish Gru is really well done and Julie Andrews is hilarious in too few scenes Gruís mum, who makes it very easy to understand why the sweet little Gru we see in flashbacks turned into the super villain the world has come to hate.  Russell Brand does nicely as Gruís elderly ďQĒ, Dr. Nefario, the man of a million gadgets and very bad hearing.  Pity the script isnít as sharp as the folks acting it, otherwise Despicable Me would have been something very special.  Itís not despicable, but itís not much of anything else, either.

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

July 9th, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

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Photos

(Courtesy of  Universal Pictures)

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