Monday, December 27, 2010

MOVIE - Despicable Me.

In recent years, the world of CGI films has broadened - it is no longer just The Pixar Show. Dreamworks have stepped up with great offerings like Kung-Fu Panda and How To Train Your Dragon, Sony's Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs was delightful (thanks for the tip, Mario!), and now we have Despicable Me from Illumination Entertainment - their first feature film.

If there's a movie type I won't take to task for playing it safe, it's "kids' movies." It's fine to give us a standard story with archtypical characters, so long as there's a sense of heart behind it all - but Despicable Me offers the best of both worlds.

It's got cute humor and huggable characters and the story plays out without any big surprises - but it also manages to be a rather different "kids' movie," simply by merit of its lead.

I just can't recall a movie like this - ever - where the protagonist is a bad guy. That's the hook - and it really pays off. It ends up feeling fresh and fun and let's face it, we always wanted to spend more time exploring the world of guys who keep sharks under their floors, right?

I mean, don't get me wrong, he's The Good Guy, but he's also A Bad Guy. Professional criminal mastermind Gru (Steve Carell sporting a great accent) loves being a jerk. In in the first three minutes of being introduced, Gru tortures a child, unleashes his mighty Freeze Ray upon the patrons of a Starbucks to cut in line and smilingly threatens to kill his neighbor's dog if the pooch doesn't stop leaving "little bombs all over my yard."

Thankfully, he's not just a charicature. The most rounded character of the film, the source of his prickly disposition is given just enough exploration - we understand why Gru is the way he is, and empathize with him.

Gru's ambition is to pull off the crime of the century - to steal the Moon - and thanks to circumstance he must enlist the help of three orphaned girls to do it.

You already know where this is going, yeah? Yeah - and the film delivers on the promise you just created for it. It's a classic plot line: the character spends the entire film chasing his desire, only to find it's not what he wanted / slash / he had what he really wanted the entire time. It's doing nothing new in this regard, but Despicable Me does us the favor of getting from A to B via a scenic route that's entertaining enough - that feels new enough - to leave us little time to dwell upon its flaws.

The flaws are hard to find. I've tried to give this show time to start bugging me - but it doesn't seem to be able.

It's just... adorable. Look at these girls! They're adorable!

Margot, Edith and Agnes are all so totally endearing. The supporting cast is wonderfully realized by excellent comedic and character actors, the character designs are great, the writing is lean and sharp, the plot structure is tight...

It's a really good show. Check it out.

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