Despicable Me

Film, Family and kids
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Despicable Me

Hollywood’s cartoon villains have always been more fun than their heroic adversaries, so it’s hardly surprising that two major animated movies this year have chosen to focus on the bad guys. But while forthcoming Will Ferrell/Brad Pitt vehicle ‘Megamind’ promises to be an all-out satirical assault on comic-book cliché, ‘Despicable Me’ is a cosy, old-fashioned affair, eschewing the current fashion for smug, ‘Shrek’-style cynicism in favour of a cockle-warming redemption story.

Steve Carell

is the voice of Gru, a suburban supervillain whose seemingly innocuous wood-frame semi sits above a vast underground lair populated by hordes of spiky, yellow and predictably braindead minions. As befits a family-friendly baddie, Gru’s acts of evil extend to freeze-raying passers-by and attempting to steal the moon rather than actual abduction or murder. Which means that when he adopts three adorable tow-headed orphan girls – for purposes of subterfuge too convoluted to go into here – it’s not long before their plucky charm and winning optimism begin to melt his cold, cold heart.

 Characterisation is the movie’s strong suit: Carell’s bizarre mittel-European accent threatens to make Gru a tough sell, but when his three well-defined and loveable charges enter the picture this irascible, prickly exterior becomes more transparent. There’s solid support, too:

Russell Brand

goes full cockernee as techno-wizard Dr Nefarious, while

Julie Andrews

makes a brief but memorable turn as Gru’s domineering mother. What the film lacks, ironically, is a decent bad guy:

Jason Segel

’s preening, Bill Gates-inspired Vector is more annoying than evil, and while

Will Arnett

makes an impression as Mr Perkins, president of the Bank of Evil (formerly Lehman Brothers), his character is frustratingly underexplored.

As a US production written and directed by a team of Spaniards and Frenchmen, ‘Despicable Me’ has an agreeable, mid-Atlantic feel, its style sitting somewhere between ‘Bolt’ and ‘Belleville Rendez-Vous’. With visits to Paris, the Pyramids and the moon, the film’s plot may be a little overcrowded, but that doesn’t prevent ‘Despicable Me’ from being one of the year’s most likeable family entertainments.

By: Tom Huddleston


Release details

Rated: U
Release date: Friday October 15 2010
Duration: 95 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud

Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:8
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

I really enjoyed this film, I didn't think that I would but some great voice work and strong characters. Very clever to then split off the Minions into their own film.

I really enjoyed this film, found it funny and the kids still love to watch it over again.

My kids aged 6 and 4 adored this film, and are still talking about it 2 weeks later. A big hit. Try the 3D version, as there's a great rollercoaster scene in it.

My kids aged 6 and 4 adored this film, and are still talking about it 2 weeks later. A big hit. Try the 3D version, as there's a great rollercoaster scene in it.

This TimeOut review is accurate. "Despicable Me"’s a great animation, with good story - easy for children (and adults) to follow. It’s clear from the outset who’s good and who’s bad, and the general direction of the story is well signposted and not taxing for kids. I wasn’t overly impressed with the 3d - it’s very good, but it’s not excellent - it’s blurry in places. What I enjoyed was the attention to detail - though there’s plenty of humour kids would enjoy, there’s an abundance of excellent adult humour and one-liners - something Pixar’s always concentrated on. I agree with the comment that there’s no one character in this movie that’s particularly evil. It’s clear to see from the outset that Gru will be won over by the three little girls. What made me howl with laughter was the bedtime story from the pop-up book with the kittens inside, and Gru’s reluctance to soften and tell the story properly. His space suit that turns pink in the washing machine because he put it in the same wash as the girl’s ballet dresses is a fine example of attention to detail and humour in this movie. Ditto, one of the little minions floats off into space early in the story, having drunk a helium drink - something that’s occasionally noted later the story and causes quite a few chuckles. Unlike Pixar’s "Up", I reckon "Despicable Me" probably won’t get nominated for an Oscar for best animation, but as a story I liked it far, far more - "Up" was cliched - even for kids. I fail to see what Russell Brand brings to this movie what any other aspiring actor couldn’t.

It's good, but is "good" good enough for these type of films anymore? The trailer for Legend Of The Guardians beforehand provided more "WOW" moments than in the entire film. Well worth watching, but no "How To Train Your Dragon" 7/10