You'd have to be totally despicable and heartless not to be entranced by "Despicable Me," the new animated 3-D feature that mixes wit, affection and cartoon slapstick.
This is a movie that entire family can enjoy as it tells its story of a master villain tamed by three little girls. Gru aims to be the world's No. 1 villain, but to do so he must pull off the crime of the century. With the aid of his little yellow minions, he proposes shrinking and stealing the moon. To do so, though, he must recover a shrinking ray stolen by Vector, a rival villain. To accomplish this aim, he adopts three orphan girls who have sold Vector cookies in order to gain entrance to his lair. But as every parent knows, where children are involved plans usually are disrupted, delayed, deterred or deferred. Much to his surprise and annoyance, Gru actually finds himself growing attached to his young charges, even as he gives in to their demands in order to carry out his scheme.
"Despicable Me" brilliantly combines comedy and compassion, humor and heart. The film begins slowly then builds up steam as Gru devises plot after plot to recover his shrinking ray and claim the top spot in villainy. One of the movie's delights is seeing all the gadgets and weapons Gru and his arch-rival have at their disposal.
Whatever situation arises, something is always at the ready to handle it. Also abetting the enjoyment is the purposeful use of 3-D. In "Despicable Me," it is more than a gimmick. It actually helps tell the story. The really cool use comes during the end credits when the filmmakers do show off a bit, putting some of the minions through some delightful stunts.
Steve Carell as voice for Gru is a master stroke. Speaking with an unrecognizable foreign accent, Carell conveys Gru's megalomania, dastardly scheming as well as his ultimate softening and reformation. Adding to the pleasure are the voices of Jason Segel as Vector, Julie Andrews as Gru's mother, Kristen Wiig as the Miss Hannigan-like owner of the orphanage, Russell Brand as Gru's scientific helper Dr. Nefario and Miranda Cosgrove, Elsie Fisher and Dana Gaier as the girls.
"Despicable Me" is a pleasure, an entertaining outing that will have youngsters and oldsters alike laughing out loud. It's imaginative, smart and charming.
Director: Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud
Cast: Voices of Steve Carrell, Jason Segel, Julie Andrews and Russell Brand
Rating: 3.5 out of 5*