Predictble, But Charmingly Despicable

Gone are the days when a hero was a hero, a villain, a villain and a dad, a dad. In the film “Despicable Me”, Gru (Steve Carell) plays the role of all three without even realizing it. In a series of strange events, Gru goes from despised evil villain to diabolical schemer to vulnerable dreamer and finally to loveable father all in the time span of 95 minutes.

“Despicable Me” is cute, if not entirely memorable. But as cute as it is, it’s also predictable. The bad guy wants to wreak havoc, three little girls unexpectedly change his life, everybody loves everybody and somehow, good manages to conquer evil with not so much as a paper cut suffered. The world is a happy place once again.

However, there are a few things you won’t find in your average good guy/bad guy film here. For instance, there is no good guy, but two bad guys. Gru is, after all, an evil villain even if he turns out to be a good guy in the end. Still, no story is complete without an enemy and that’s where Vector (Jason Segel) comes in. Since there’s no battle of good and evil in this movie, Vector provides a little competition and an opponent when it’s needed, reminiscent of Pixar’s Monster’s Inc. with two scary monsters but one who is the lesser of two evils.

The supporting characters, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) and Gru’s mother (Julie Andrews) don’t contribute much to the story, but they serve their purpose anyway. Dr. Nefario is Gru’s right hand man who keeps him focused and Gru’s mother is the ever present, never supportive pain in the butt who’s never ending doubt drives him to follow through with his evil plan to steal the moon and accomplish his dream.

And then there’s the final piece of this story, the catalyst for Gru’s transformation from evil genius into lovable dad and the glue that holds everything together. Three orphan girls, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher). It’s never made known whether or not these girls are sisters but if not, they’re as good as. They’re inseparable and Margo, as the oldest, looks out for Edith and Agnes.

Gru adopts the girls to be used as part of his evil plan. But as he gets to know them, they grow on him and steal his heart as small children have a way of doing to even the most tough-as-nails characters. Still, as unsurprising as it is, it’s heartwarming to see the journey of people who so clearly dislike each other, growing to love each other and become a family.

This film tries hard to be more Pixar-esque than anything else, from its 3-D animation to its storyline. It’s a witty and adorable family film, but the lack of a resonating story will leave you with a few laughs, but not much to remember.

All in all, “Despicable Me” is perfect for an audience with a short attention span. Namely, children; which is fitting as it’s a family film, but parents shouldn’t expect much. They’ll probably leave with a smile, but there isn’t a great deal in the story for adults, so they shouldn’t look forward to much more than some witty humor and good animation.

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