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Despicable Me

Despicable Me

Gru (Steve Carell) is perfectly content with his life as a super-villain -- (or, 'suber willain') -- until a new villain puts the brakes on his reign by stealing the Pyramid at Giza and replacing it with an inflatable fake. The new villain, Vector (Jason Segel), is a high-tech bozo that seems modeled on Bill Gates. Gru must steal a shrink ray gun from Vector in order to pull off the greatest criminal scheme of all time -- he's going to steal the moon. When he's unable to get inside Vector's hideout he notices that three little girls who sell cookies door-to-door are able to get inside Vector's headquarters. Gru whispers, "Light.... bulb!" Gru adopts the girls to use them in a plot to get inside Vector's hideout.

Predictably, Gru's heart softens to the three girls and he makes them skull-shaped pancakes and reads them bedtime stories (laughably referring to their request for 'Three Little Kittens' by saying, "Really, you like this? This is garbage!"). Despicable Me is wholesome, funny children's fare with inventive sight gags and will satsify adults because Gru mocks sappy children's fare even while being a part of it.

Pixar is known for lacing their digital comedies with sight gags that are subtle, so subtle you may even miss them. For example, when Gru must apply for a loan at the 'Bank of Evil' there's a small sign that read 'Formerly Lehman Brothers' underneath the main sign. Other somewhat topical comedy is a news commentator who suddenly turns to the camera for a Keith Olberman-esque zoom-in closeup.

Gru's 'minions' (they're never really named) are the little yellow creatures that he must have genetically-engineered. Although they all seem to be very similar each has subtle differences in their hair, height and demeanor. They're all wildly enthusiastic about any of Gru's schemes, however. What makes them so funny is that Gru treats them as largely disposable (trying out new ray guns and other devices on them without a thought) and yet he seems to know each of them by name with a single glance -- "Kevin, Lars, Etienne, Bruce! Go get my rocket chair ready! Hey, Jim, how's the kids?" The fact that they all have personal names is somehow hysterical.

The opening theme (Despicable Me, by Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes) that introduces audiences to Gru is also very catchy:


Im having a bad bad day
its about time that I get my way
steam rolling whatever i see, huh
despicable me
I’m having a bad bad day
if you take it personal thats ok,
watch this is so fun to see, huh
despicable me

The action (when it occurs) is what you expect from Pixar, including aerial battles, a Spy vs. Spy-style battle as Gru attempts to gain entry into Vector's super-modern home, and a finale that's actually pretty exciting. Despicable Me manages to walk the fine line between being heartwarming and being twee. Of course, every character in the film ends up break-dancing at the end of the film, but that's to be expected from these sorts of movies.

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