Movie Review: ‘Despicable Me’

Gabriel Stoffa

When I was a kid, I discovered Mad Magazine’s: “Spy vs. Spy.” I still like it today.

Then came the previews for “Despicable Me.” Despite being targeted to kids, I was interested because it reminded me of those crazy spies.

“Despicable Me” involves a villain that is competing with another villain to be the best bad-guy in the business. This is so very “Spy vs. Spy” I couldn’t believe it.

The main villain, Gru, is voiced by Steve Carrell, while his nemesis, Vector, is voiced by Jason Segel. Two very funny actors whose voices lend talent, but weren’t utilized to their fullest for the movie; but it was still fine.

As to the actual content, the film has a solid line-up of over-the-top characters to keep the audience laughing, as well as three of the cutest, spunkiest orphan girls since “Annie,” which the movie happens to reference.

Unfortunately, there are these little yellow minion things that work for Gru. I don’t know what they are. All I can determine is whoever created these things — be it the writers or producers or some other executive — thought they would be cute and help the movie.

They are sorta funny in that classic lackey way, but they could have been people instead and have been a lot better. I assume the yellow things were added to appeal to toddlers. On the plus side, if you watch the movie a second time, they do some funny things in background shots.

Which brings me to my biggest disagreement with the movie: The needless bit of pandering to child audiences.

“Despicable Me” is a fairly dark movie. It is about bad-guys that steal things and want to wreak havoc upon people for their own personal pleasure. They have no qualms with killing others or destroying property. They are villains. To make Gru more lovable, he has to adopt three little orphan girls in order to succeed with a cockamamie plan to steal a shrink ray from Vector.

I am completely fine with his ludicrous plans akin to Wile E. Coyote‘s attempts to capture the roadrunner. I am completely fine with the wonderfully classic cartoonish results from explosions and blunt-force trauma. I am completely fine with his blossoming adoration for the orphan girls.

What I am not fine with, are the instances where the movie could have kept its dark setting and still been funny and appealing to children — Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies did it for years — but instead became too childish … nah, I’m only kidding. I just felt odd not having much to complain about.

There really aren’t any logical complaints I can make about this movie. It didn’t really pander, and it is great for all ages.

I have been and always will be a huge fan of the old-school cartoon stylings where violence is portrayed because it can be funny, and doesn’t give in to the nut-job, attention-grabbing parent groups that want to blame TV instead of themselves.

Many of those groups try so hard to eliminate exposure to violent images for children, that they prevent a great deal of classic creative material from seeing the light of day.

Thankfully, “Despicable Me” made the cut — though I expect there is very much more dark version of the script kicking around on someone’s computer.

“Despicable Me” is a marvelous animated movie that kicks back to the cartoons from days of yore. There are great references for those with a love for noticing tiny details. The violence is fun and just dark enough to not become stupid like most current cartoons not on “Adult Swim.” Best of all, the messages are simple and efficient; worthwhile advancements of characters in an animated film.

This is one of those rare times I would advise anyone and everyone to go out and watch this movie:

If you’re an older adult, you’ll remember getting up early for Saturday morning cartoons that weren’t lame like the later “Pokemon” or “Yu-Gi-Oh!” cartoons. If you’re a younger adult, you’ll likely appreciate the light mature references much like those made in “The Muppet Show” and even “Muppet Babies.” And if you’re still young but barely considered adultish, you’ll still love “Despicable Me” and marvel at how cool an older style of cartoons can be — and hopefully gain the interest to look back into some of the older shows mentioned in this article.

This summer you’ve been given an opportunity to get away from the mega-blockbuster franchises to see something stand-alone entertaining.

So, just go see “Despicable Me.”