On paper it appears that Despicable Me got so many things right where other animated films miss the mark. It’s an original idea to have the protagonist to try to be the best supervillain (Especially because people aren’t try to get him to be a superhero.). The themes of this movie aren’t the tired “Be yourself!” or “Save the environment!”
Yet there is still something missing with the movie. There’s nothing especially wrong with the film but its creativity feels restrained. This is a world of supervillains all competing to be the best criminal. There are only two major criminals seen though. Gru (Voiced by Steve Carell) and Vector (Jason Segel) are aggressively competing with each other and that sparks a lot of fun scenes. Yet where are the other tiers of villains? There is so much potential in animated films to really show a world that is not seen.
What is on display is not terrible. Gru wants to one-up Vector by pulling off the biggest heist of all time: stealing the moon. In order to get the necessary shrink ray to pull this off, Gru needs to adopt three young girls who end up pestering his life. Their scenes together are fun, but too often Gru is like a more educated Shrek. Nothing is really enduing laughter, but just an amused smile.
The film is incredibly competent in many ways. The animation looks crisp and separates itself from the other major studios. Its policy with the voice actors is something really great. With a lineup like Carell, Segel, Will Arnett, and Kristen Wiig it’s expected they will just be what they usually sound like. Instead they each supply a unique voice to their respected characters. If I didn’t know Russell Brand played Gru’s right hand man who is an old scientist, I would have no idea.
This movie is also one of the worthy recommendations of 3D. It is still not essential like Avatar was but is much stronger than unnecessary ventures like Clash of the Titans or Shrek Forever After. One of the more memorable scenes in the movie is a group of Gru’s minions competing to see who can reach their hand out the furthest (and into the audience).
Aside from having there be a clichéd dance recital that puts Gru in conflict, there is nothing bothersome about the story. I just want something more out of this. Animated films are great because if a kid likes it then it will be on repeat constantly in their house. A great film has the chance to inspire a kid and can be a movie they want to happily revisit when they’re older. As likable as Despicable Me is, I doubt this will have much staying power from any age.