Thursday, July 8, 2010

Despicable Me- she said

I don’t usually buy into Dreamworks movies. I enjoyed Shrek, but after that, their movies seemed so much more blah than Pixar movies. It wasn’t until this year’s How to Train Your Dragon by DreamWorks (I never saw Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs until recently) that I realized someone besides Pixar could make a decent animated movie. Even with that, I still wasn’t expecting much when Despicable Me was being advertised. I was indifferent towards the movie going in, but I found myself really, really enjoying it.

Despicable Me creates this amazing world where villains live next door, have their own banks, and regularly steal major landmarks like the Great Pyramid. Gru is a villain who was probably very good at his job at some point, but he has lost his edge. He is very old school having a cascade of miniature twinkie-looking things as his minions working on new and brilliant gadgets and gizmos. He has developed the best idea to get him back on top…steal the moon. Unfortunately, he can’t get the loan for his idea from the bank (the loan goes to his nemesis, Vector), so Gru adopts three girls, Margo, Edith, and Agnes, to unknowingly help him. At first, Gru is initially annoyed with having these three new personalities in his home, but then they grow on him.

Gru initially uses the girls to get inside Vector’s house. Vector is like the Mac version of the villains, while Gru is the PC. Vetor’s home is clean, slick, and shiny. Gru’s home is worn, creaky, and has history. Vector has a remote control for everything, and Gru has to create a new gadget for everything. Gru wants to prove that he’s still the best villain, so he takes it upon himself to steal the moon to outdo Vector. However, his plans get foiled when his feelings change for his new “daughters”.

As the girls begin to find a place in Gru’s heart, he is faced with a problem: does he save his career as a villain or does he take his new found role as a dad? Or is there room in this world to be both? We’ve seen this situation before, work or family, but it’s nice to see a fun take on the classic situation.

The person who steals the movie is the youngest girl, Agnes. The actress, Elsie Fisher, does brilliant voice work. She walks the line of being annoying and endearing, which is a difficult line to walk, but she pulls it off. At first, you think she’s going to be this annoying little girl who’s obsessed with unicorns, but she’s so lovable, you want to adopt her by the end. The other girls are equally as adorable. They each have their very distinct personalities and quirks. I found myself more interested in their story than Gru’s plot.

Another fun aspect is the minions. These creatures are Gru’s workers, who live (I guess) in the bowls of his home. They’re like smart four year olds that look like mini twinkies. They work hard with the tasks they’re given, but they giggle and laugh at any instance of a fart joke. The minions are there for the crude humor that draws in the younger crowd, and even though I did find them kind of cute, the jokes got old.

Overall, Dreamworks is clearly taking a turn for the better. They must have found some new writers. Despicable Me is quirky and fun and is one of the better movies of the summer. There’s a new formula that Dreamworks must be drinking because their past few movies have been heads above their earlier ones (yes even Shrek). Whatever they’re drinking, they need to stay on it, then maybe they can actually begin to compete with Pixar.

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