By Mike Frey
Who says bad guys never win? Pitted against the latest installments from Disney/Pixar’s and DreamWorks Animation’s signature series this summer, Universal’s Despicable Me held its own, finishing between Toy Story 3 and Shrek Forever After in domestic gross. The film performed well enough that a sequel is already in the works. While the movie was a box-office triumph, it was no small victory for parents looking for a decent movie to watch with their kids, either.
The title refers to an evil genius named Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), who is not as gruesome as his name suggests or as he would like to believe. Sure, he’s the type of guy who would make a balloon animal for a kid only to pop it in front of him, but he’s not exactly the world’s greatest super-villain — not anymore, anyway. That title belongs to his rival, Vector, with whom Gru competes for headlines and funding from the Bank of Evil (insert your own joke about the current state of the banking industry here). When both bad guys set their sights on stealing the moon, Gru will either be aided or distracted by the three orphan girls he has recently adopted as part of his plot to out-evil Vector. Plus — spoiler alert! — he just might become a better person by being a parent.
The movie’s bad-guy-turns-good premise comes off as novel — or at least it did before DreamWorks Animation’s Megamind took the same track a few months later — which should keep parents interested. What will make kids fall in love with Despicable Me, though, is Gru’s crew of yellow minions. Exceptionally loyal but none too bright, the pill-shaped little guys, along with the youngest of the three girls — who harbors an intense passion for unicorns and all things fluffy — provide most of the film’s many laughs. Here’s hoping they saved some for the sequel.
“Despicable Me” is now showing on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
© 2011 Universal Studios