By Jeff Kazmierski – Copy Editor
“Despicable Me”, one of this summer’s latest 3-D movie offerings, begins with the premise that villains are always more interesting than heroes. In it, we are introduced to Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), a mad scientist and super-villain whose lair is tucked in amongst rows of quaint suburban homes and who dreams not so much of world domination as becoming the highest-rated supervillain on the nightly news. His most useful evil gadget is a freeze-ray, which he uses to great effect on the people waiting in line at Starbucks. He has an army of minions at his command, an assortment of goggle-eyed, green, pill-shaped creatures that talk in gibberish and have bizarre senses of humor.Gru is a villain, but he’s not very good at it. As the movie opens, we learn that Gru and all the other villains in the world (there are a lot of them) have been upstaged by a newer, younger upstart baddie named Vector (voiced by Jason Segel) who has stolen the Great Pyramid of Giza. Yes, that pyramid. These supervillains think big.
Obviously, Gru has some catching up to do, and with the help of his friend Doctor Nefario (voiced by Russel Brand) he hatches a bold, convoluted, and clearly doomed plan to steal the moon.
Yes, that moon. Like I said, these villains think big. To do it, he has to build a rocket and steal a shrink ray gun, all with the help of his ever-loyal minions and the aging but dedicated Doctor Nefario. Unfortunately, arch-rival Vector gets to the shrink-ray first, and Gru has to play catch up yet again.
The movie is certainly entertaining, and you feel a somewhat guilty pleasure in rooting for the villain, but the filmmakers also throw in a trio of cute orphans to lighten things up even more. Gru finds the kids, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher), at a local orphanage and adopts them, intending to use them as part of his increasingly twisted plot to steal the shrink ray gun and eventually, the moon. Well, it hardly needs to be said that as villain and children get to know each other, the kids change old Gru’s heart and he gets a little “Extreme Makeover, Supervillain Edition.” I wouldn’t go so far as to say he becomes a hero, but let’s just say he’s a little less bad than he was.
“Despicable Me” is a thoroughly entertaining, funny and fast-moving film full of pointed and timely satire (Gru borrows money from the “Bank of Evil, formerly Lehman Brothers”), juvenile humor (one favorite line is “No, I said ‘dart’ gun!”) and enough action to successfully exploit the 3-D technology used in production (one of the best 3-D scenes takes place on an amusement park roller coaster).
The plot is interesting, and though the story becomes a little predictable, it still makes for an afternoon of good, solid entertainment. The kids will enjoy it, and the adults will get the jokes. I give it four stars.