If this sounds a little like the recent ‘Despicable Me’, that’s because it rolls with a similar idea, albeit employing a more realistic animation style and a strain of reference-heavy humour aimed at a slightly more mature audience. But the film also pinches a few pages out of the ‘Kick-Ass’ rule book, notably in the way it dismantles the archetypal ‘masked crusader’ and delights in revealing the mundane chores of life as a full-time master of chaos: those jumbo-collared leather capes don’t just stitch themselves, you know.
Ferrell’s voice work is spot on. He even runs with an amusing speech impediment for which Metro City becomes Metrocity, and in one truly surreal moment he answers the telephone with ‘Olo?’, after which his minion (David Cross) reminds him, ‘It’s “hello”.’ Yet, for a film whose stock in trade are tongue-in-cheek reversals of comic-book cliché, it too often settles for trite audience-pleasing. We can only guess how long it took the guys in the soundtrack team to come up with ‘Bad to the Bone’ and Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’. And when Jonah Hill’s bumbling cameraman is zapped with a superpower raygun and hastily ushered in as the enemy, the film jettisons its raison d’etre for a standard, if splendidly executed, city-wrecking finale.