Thursday, July 8, 2010

Despicable Me- He said

Dreamworks Animation studios got its start in pop culture as the makers of Shrek, a great little movie everyone knows by now. Unfortunately, after the success of Shrek, Dreamworks stuck with the same formula of celebrity voices and adult humor undertones, with mediocre animation and stories, giving us such gems as Shark Tale, Bee Movie, and the second Madagascar movie. This all finally went away when they released Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, and subsequently this year’s runaway hit How To Train Your Dragon. I am glad to say that while Despicable Me is not nearly as great as the other movies mentioned, it is an insanely enjoyable good time and pretty endearing to boot.

When I saw the first trailers for this movie, I was confused and rather apprehensive. The trailers made little to no sense when put together, and the marketing was all over the place. It wasn’t until the minions showed up, and my sister kept on raving about them, that I got a bit interested. The Minions are the cute, yellow things that serve our main protagonist/villain Gru. Gru, from what we see, is a mediocre villain who thinks rather highly of himself. When he goes to the Evil Bank to get a loan for his new plan that involves stealing the moon, he is rejected because he is no longer a hot new villain. That villain is Vector, a super geeky inventor that wears orange spandex and stole the Great Pyramid from Egypt. After Vector foils one of his plans, Gru tries to best him and he’s going to use three orphan girls, Margo, Edith, and Agnes, he adopted to unwittingly help. If you’ve seen any movie when the main character changes his or her way, you know how this movie will turn out for the most part.

What I found interesting about the way this movie handles its world and how believable everything is. You don’t question a geek stealing the Pyramid, yellow Minions walking around and doing nutty stuff, and the villain banks. I really enjoyed this considering that most movies need a long set up, and it felt refreshing to just jump into a world headfirst. Gru’s life is an eccentric one full of colorful characters like his mom and his assistant/mentor Dr. Nefario; they are both your typical over the top-senior citizen types, which usually seem rather annoying (I never bought into the Betty White hype), but they work rather well. I will say that the issues that the mom give Gru are interesting but felt tacked on at random times of the movie. Once we meet the little girls and their very distinct personalities, the movie starts to pick up in a positive manner. If you have seen the commercials you know that Agnes, the little girl will steal the show along the minions, and that’s not a bad thing at all. If you have seen Toy Story 3, think of Bonnie but a much younger version.

With the kids and the minions stealing the show, it does show Gru to be a slightly boring protagonist, his overly confident persona that masks a guy full of insecurity is something we’ve seen quite a bit. Vector is the worst character of the whole movie; he’s a very one-note sort of characters that did very little to nothing to add to the story. But these are all rather minor complaints about the movie. The weird thing is that there is nothing truly wrong with the movie, and its story is one that we have seen before but it is done well. As I stated before Gru and Vector being weak characters is a detriment to the overall story.

Overall, this is one of the better Dreamworks Animation movies, sure they are following the same formula that has gotten them in trouble before, but this time like in their last two movies it works just fine.

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