Some films often have a unique ability to bring all people, young and old, to a level playing field of enjoyment. These films are able to tap into the interests of young kids, while taking adults back in time reminding them what they used to be like. Animated films seem to have a leg up on this type of appeal and this is an accurate description for the new animated film, Despicable Me.
Despicable Me follows a super-villain named Gru whose life long ambition is to be the greatest villain ever to walk the Earth. The movie begins with Gru being upstaged by a new, younger villain threatening Gru’s reputation. Gru then decides to pull off the heist of the century in order to solidify his legacy. Gru devises a plan to pull this monumental heist off but soon finds that he requires the help of three sweet young orphan girls to help him gain access to a location that he is unable to penetrate otherwise. Gru adopts the girls and finds himself learning how to become a parent.
The film works on many different levels that are both hilarious and heartfelt. First of all, it must be said that Steve Carell is amazing as the voice of Gru. Adding a thick Russian/Ukranian/Transylvanian accent to the already clever and witty dialogue is a home-run and makes for some very memorable one-liners. The other actors providing their voice to the film are all exceptional as well such as Russell Brand, Jason Segel, Julie Andrews, and Will Arnett.
As opposed to taking the route of great films like the Toy Story trilogy, in which the toys become humanized and express very realistic situations with authentic emotional responses, Despicable Me plays out more like a combo of a classic Looney Toons cartoon and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It’s incredibly heartfelt and emotional, but way over-the-top existing in a universe that is very artificial. The fighting in the film is straight out of a Wylie Coyote scene and the transition of Gru from super-villain to loving father avoids being cheesy and ends up simply being pleasant to watch.
The other thing that impressed me immediately about this film is the music. The film switches between a fantastic score that rivals most other animated films, but then changes quickly to very impressive hip hop influenced classic spy music. Once the film was over and the credits ran I found out why I liked the music so much. The credits boasted two names in music rarely, if ever, seen together for the same project; Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer. One is the giant among giants in making beats with The Neptunes and the other did the Gladiator soundtrack, need I say more?
Ultimately this is a film I plan on watching with my children someday. It’s clever and funny without having to be tongue in cheek and barely walking the line between kid humor and adult humor, like the Shrek films. The humor of Despicable Me is universal and the story is timeless. This is a great movie and I’d recommend it to literally anyone.