Animadversion: Despicable Me – Review by Farheen Jawaid

The following is the unedited review published in iMAGES on the 1st of August 2010

despicable me

Despicable. Not Quite.

By Farheen Jawaid

Taking cues from last year’s charmingly named “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatball”, “Despicable Me”, a CGI, 3D, animated feature gives us Steve Carell as the voice of Gru as the “me” of the title.

The Slavic accented Gru is a villain living in a murky–grey house on a cheery suburban area devises nothing big, like most villains. No. He has no plans for world domination. On the other hand, the moon is more to his liking. This craving for the moon is, in-part, due to inconsiderate parenting by his mother (voiced by Julie Andrews), only snippets of show up as tangible character building sequences in the movie. Minus these bits and “Despicable Me” retorts to a hotchpotch of promotional skids glued together around a paper thin plot and emotions.

Despicable Me” does try to cover its emotional blank by introducing three orphan girls with old–lady names Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher) – only two or one could have been sufficient – who Gru semi–adopts from orphanage, aptly titled “Home for Girls”. The orphanage, with its dickens–like unkindness, even has a Box of Shame, where naughty girls who don’t cover cookie orders go.

Gru uses the girls as a means of getting a weapon – a shrink ray which he will use to shrink the moon – from his cookie eating archrival Vector.

“Me” starts with genuine comedic elements, like an Evil Bank, where villains go for loans for nefarious schemes, complete with blueprints and feasibility. The other routine, but effective, elements are the un–speaking side characters. In “Me” they are the cute two, sometimes one, eyed minions of Gru, named Minions. With yellow–tablet like in structure, the little minions treat Gru as a real-life rock star. When he first enters the lair where his minions live, (which is in the basement of his house) the indecipherable minions scream away in frantic fan–fueled joy at his sight. Complete with stage and trimmings, pep-talks them as a CEO does to his staff.

Notwithstanding this, “Me” lacks a heart like Pixar most movies or “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatball”; and the wacky fun of “Shrek”. It isn’t detestable neither is it completely likeable. Its somewhere in between.

Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud on a story by Sergio Pablos and screenplay by Ken Daurio. Distributed by Universal. “Despicable Me” is Rated PG. It has make-shift sugary cuteness and not very maniacal villainy.

The published version can be found at:

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/images/despicable-not-quite-180

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