Despicable Me ★★★★

Despicable Me, like countless other movies, first caught my attention when it was originally promoted. But then the TV spots became ubiquitous and all I could really tell from it was that Steve Carrell voiced a villain who was the story's protagonist and some little girl yelled, "IT'S SO FLUFFY!" It became tiresome and then I lost interest when the film actually opened. I heard good things about it, but contented myself I'd just get around to it one day.

One thing that struck me early in the film was that I didn't get a clearer sense of its story from those TV spots that ran ad infinitum in 2010. I had no idea, for instance, where the three girls came from or how they fit into the story. [Yes, the tagline on the poster was "Superbad. Superdad." I apparently took no notice of that.] I cringed at how they were treated at the orphanage, partly because it was so cruel and partly because I'm sure some people thought it funny. I even questioned whether or not it was played for laughs - particularly the "box of shame" akin to the punishment box in which Alec Guinness's Colonel Nicholson suffers in The Bridge on the River Kwai.

Though the idea is ultimately fairly recycled, the pace is brisk and the humor clicked for me. I admit, I had a hard time recognizing most of the voice cast. I saw their names in the opening credits, but my friend had to point out to me which voice went with which character. That flies in the face of voice casting director Andrea Romano's philosophy of casting people for their voice rather than for their ability to affect a different one, but they got away with it here.

An online pal of mine has been pretty scathing in his contempt for the Minions and this film franchise, pointing to them as "everything that is wrong with kids' movies today". That seems pretty hyperbolic and unfair to me. The Minions are just the latest incarnation of comic relief henchmen. Their brand of humor is reminiscent of comedians going back to The Three Stooges. It's true none of them as individuals are really identifiable as characters, but so what? Neither were the stormtroopers in Star Wars but they've been welcomed by pop culture and society at large.

Overall, Despicable Me reminded me of the Warner Bros. cartoon shows Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs. There's quite a lot of "Pinky and The Brain" in this movie, and as someone who loved those ambitious mice, that's a good thing.

How Despicable Me Entered My Flickchart

Despicable Me > How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days --> #764
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is something of a guilty pleasure, but I outright enjoyed Despicable Me.

Despicable Me < The Music Man (1962) --> #764
Both are fun, but only one is about a shady guy scamming his way to domestic happiness. Oh. Right.

Despicable Me > The Adventures of Milo and Otis --> #573
I only vaguely recall The Adventures of Milo & Otis, whereas I enjoyed Despicable Me. This one's easy.

Despicable Me > Orgazmo --> #478
I probably laughed more at Orgazmo, the only Stone/Parker work I've actually liked so far, but I liked Despicable Me more.

Despicable Me < Transformers --> #478
Despicable Me was far more solid, but I have to admit my inner child lit up the first time I saw Optimus Prime in a "real" movie. I really like that scene where Sam talks Mikaela into getting in Bumblebee, too.

Despicable Me > Chicago --> #453
This could change if/when I give Chicago a second viewing (it's one of few musicals I liked), but right now I favor Despicable Me.

Despicable Me < Creature from the Black Lagoon --> #453
I enjoyed Despicable Me, but Creature from the Black Lagoon offered more surprises. Plus, I'm a sucker for the Universal Monsters flicks.

Despicable Me < Jerry Maguire --> #453
Jerry Maguire is contrived sap, but for whatever reason I found myself under its spell. Despicable Me was fun, but didn't quite snag me the same way.

Despicable Me > Dressed to Kill --> #450
Dressed to Kill is one of the more enjoyable of the Sherlock Holmes movies that I've seen, but it wasn't as satisfying as Despicable Me.

Despicable Me < Breathless --> #450
Though I liked and enjoyed Despicable Me, Breathless is like a fever dream recollection of a "youthful indiscretion" gone horribly wrong.

Despicable Me entered my Flickchart at #450/1527