Voice cast: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig
Plot: Gru, a wannabe villain, who has raised and trained an army of small minions, wants to prove himself to the world and his mom by stealing the moon. He needs a ‘stink ray’ for the task which is in the possession of another villain, Vector. Gru adopts three cute orphan girls to steal the sting ray from Vector, but this move ends up changing his life.
What’s Good: The plain, good humour; the superlative characters; the quality of animation.
What’s Bad: Hardly anything.
Verdict: Despicable Me is a beautiful movie that makes an entertaining watch for all.
Loo break: None really.
Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s inaugural animation film, Despicable Me, is a happy-go-lucky story about a wannabe villain, Gru, and the bond he forms with three adopted girls, Margo, Edith and Agnes, even as he tries to live up to his mom’s dreams and become the world’s number one villain. The film is based on a universal theme and will appeal to all.
In a happy suburban neighbourhood, surrounded by white picket fences with flowering rose bushes, sits a black house with a dead lawn. Hidden beneath this home is a vast secret hideout, inhabited by a small army of minions lead by Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), planning the biggest heist in the history of the world. He is going to steal the moon with the help of his aged, nutty but intelligent guide, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand). But since the moon is too huge to just pocket, Gru needs the ‘stink ray’ to shrink the moon before he can steal it. Unfortunately, the stink ray is with his enemy, a much younger, hi-tech and nerdy, Vector (Jason Segel). After all his attempts at entering Vector’s hideout to steal the stink ray fail, Gru decides to adopt three young girls, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher), whom he uses to finally get the stink ray. Hereafter, despite guarding against getting close to the girls, Gru starts caring for them and enjoying their company, neglecting his own steal-the-moon project. How he finally manages to realise his dream, because of the girls’ love for him, forms the rest of the story.
Based on a simple story by Sergio Pablos, and adopted for the screen by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, Despicable Me manages to tickle your funny bone throughout. The characters (character design by Carter Goodrich) are memorable. So while Gru delights in all things wicked, the girls are absolute sweethearts. You just cannot help but feel their loss when they cry, and smile when they have fun together. And there is no way you will not love the adorable yellow-coloured, gibberish-speaking minions who populate Gru’s underground den in thousands. The story is beautiful but, nevertheless, too simplistic. In fact, the fairy-tale-like story is the ‘weak point’ in an otherwise good film. And since the Indian audience gives the maximum weightage to the story, the film will not work half as well as it should at the box-office.
The directors, Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin (both from Paris), do an incredible job in bringing out just the right amount of emotion on screen. Pierre Coffin has, in fact, done the voices of almost all the minions! The film is replete with gags, which make you laugh and smile, but the directors never lose sight of the larger picture. The film flows smoothly and at a steady pace. The editing (Pamela Ziegenhagen-Shefland and Gregory Perler) is first rate.
The original songs and background score by Pharrell Williams and Heitor Pereira complement the story to the fullest, though you can’t help but notice the use of a few American chartbusters in the film’s soundtrack.
The voice acting is first rate. Steve Carell as Gru does a superlative job, although it is hard to imagine him speaking in a non-American accent. Jason Segel (as Vector) and Russell Brand (as Dr. Nefario) also do good jobs at bringing alive the animated characters. The animation quality is superb, to say the least. Bright, vibrant colours and dark, broody backgrounds bring out the good-versus-evil fight more effectively.
All in all, Despicable Me, from producer Chris Meledandri (Ice Age, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who!) is an entertaining film but one which will not do too well at the ticket windows.
– By Mrigank Dhaniwala