Film Review: Despicable Me

Despicable Me is a light-hearted animated movie that audiences young and old will enjoy. It does not pack the same emotional punch as a film such as Up, but it is entertaining throughout.

Gru’s schemes to become the greatest villain don’t always pay off. In order to triumph over new villain Vector, Gru enlists the unwitting help of three young orphaned sisters. Gru get more than he bargained for, however, when he adopts the girls…

In an industry dominated by Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks, it is nice to see a newer company competing with the established few. Although this Illumination Entertainment production shares a number of characteristics with other animated films, it still has its own feel.

Much of the enjoyment of Despicable Me is due to its humour. Whilst there is enough slapstick and universal comedy to entertain young viewers, many of the jokes seem geared towards older audience members. Gru’s disapproval of the children’s book he is asked to read, for example, appears to have more resonance with an older audience. Likewise, some of the references in the film will be lost on younger viewers.

Despicable Me features a host of famous names voicing its characters. Steve Carell and Jason Segal bring the humour that they best known for, and Jermaine Clement makes an amusing Jerry the Minion. Teen favourite Miranda Cosgrove is sure to bring in a young audience voicing Margo, the oldest of the girls.

The animation in the film is faultless. The minions, in particular, are well designed; despite looking identical, they seem to have their own personalities. Screened in 3D, Despicable Me is restrained with its use of the third dimension. The result is a subtle use of the form, which is much more aesthetically pleasing than the pronounced way it is utilised in some movies.

The only gripe with the film is that there is nothing remarkable about the narrative. Despicable Me offers a pretty predictable story; there is no real detour or surprise to enliven the narrative. Nevertheless, the characters are likeable and the humour frequent enough to compensate for this shortcoming.

Despicable Me follows the recent trend of animated films that appear to be aimed at adults, though they are suitable for all. Like last year’s Fantastic Mr Fox, the humour isn’t adult, but makes references that will go over the heads of young children. Coupled with this is the soundtrack, which features well-known tunes as well as original music from Pharrell Williams. The music signals an appeal wider than a standard children’s cartoon.

Despicable Me is yet another indication that animated films are not only for the young. In reaching an older audience, however, the film does not neglect younger viewers, making it a perfect family film.