Despicable Me


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Working from the idea that the villains in animated movies are always more interesting than its heroes, Despicable Me scores points with a 3D animated feature that tickles the funny bone more often than it doesn’t (see Shrek Forever After for the “doesn’t” quota).  Despite being unsure of how to market this film, Universal just might have a hit on their hands, not because of its moments of outrageousness, but because of its slight nod to sentimentality.

Part Spy vs Spy and part Up, Universal’s Despicable Me, written by Ken Daurio and Conco Paul, is a Looney Tunes paced blink-and-you’ll miss it type of movie that tells the story of Gru (voiced by Steve Carrell) who adopts three cute and orphaned little girls for the sole purpose of getting them into the home of his rival, the tracksuit-wearing Vector (Jason Segal), so that they, dressed as cookie-selling Girl Scouts, might infiltrate and steal his plans for villainy.  The world isn’t big enough for TWO super villains, after all.  Enabling more than assisting in the task of villainy are Gru’s pint-sized Minions (who steal the show at every turn) and Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), who simply wants Gru to steal the moon and NOT witness him fall for the girls.

Full of harmless Three Stooges antics and Willy E. Coyote fun, Despicable Me is an enjoyable and breezy movie of old-school pratfalls that delivers most of its humor visually.  While only marginally playing up the cute factor (think Boo in Monsters Inc.), the three orphaned girls – especially Agnes (Elsie Fisher) - do “like” the villainous Gru and, in comically touching moments, attempt to capture his attention and his heart with their doe-eyed charm.  Something else that works with this construct of this feature are Gru’s own flashbacks to life with his disinterested mother (Julie Andrews, playing against type).

Directed by Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin, the French-made Despicable Me – while entertaining - suffers a bit from the curse of modern day animation in that it’s completely forgettable.  Only repeat viewings from the kiddos will save this feature from its own walk-in-the-park mentality.  It seems Pixar is the only studio that figured out a way to overcome this obstacle through some really fine writing and character development.  Universal?  Not so much.  True, not everything needs (or wants) to resonate with its audience.  Perhaps that is the case here, but Despicable Me plays as if it wants to walk the middle ground between Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events and Shrek – one feature connected with an audience and one didn’t – so I believe the criticism is fair.

While it is much, much better than the ENTIRE Ice Age series, Despicable Me is so loaded with in-the-moment hysterics and gags that it becomes hard to differentiate one from the other.  You remember you laughed.  You just don’t remember why and you certainly couldn’t tell someone who hasn’t seen the feature why you did, but damn if those Twinkie-colored Minions aren’t the funniest thing…right?!


Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
3 Stars

4 stars

Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - December 14, 2010
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH, French, Spanish
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Three-disc set (1 BD, 2 DVDs); Digital copy (on disc); DVD copy; Bonus View (PiP); BD-Live; D-Box; Mobile features

Wow.  Despicable Me's 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation is cinematic jazz. The picture is strong, the colors vibrant and the contrast rhythms are genius. It might not be the most rich in texture, but that’s the way the animation is designed and certainly not a fault in the transfer.  Glowing with unmatched warmth in color, the transfer commands attention via its clarity and even handling of its characters. The soundtrack, presented in Universal’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround feature, is seriously heavy with lows and surrounding highs. It fills the sound space nicely with plenty of door-jarring thunder and spatial surround sound.


Commentary Track:

  • This is where things get interesting.  The commentary, provided by co-directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin, have a lot of interesting thing to say about making this film and all the obstacles they faced in getting made; however, those pesky Minions keep interrupting and hijacking the commentary.  Cute once, not so much the second and third time.  Thankfully, this doesn’t happen that frequently.

Special Features:

If you can survive the 96-minute takeover of the Minions in Gru-control, then the Blu-ray actually has some cool things to offer its fans. IF you can make it past, I said. Sure, these guys are funny and all, but their mischief gets old fast.  The Blu-ray features, for a limited time, a DVD copy of the film and a digital copy of the film. The special features - along with Pocket Blu mobile features, BD Live Functionality, and My Scenes Bookmarking - include the following:

  • Three ‘Despicable Me’ Mini-Movies (12 min)
  • The Voices of ‘Despicable Me’ (17 min)
  • The World of ‘Despicable Me’ (15 min)
  • Despicable Beats (3 min)
  • A Global Effort (3 min)
  • Five of Miss Hattie's Top Secret Cookie Recipes
  • Super Silly Fun Land
  • Gru's Rocket Builder
  • Two ‘Despicable Me’ Videogame Trailers