Despicable Me: ** 1/2 (out of 4)
The trailers of Despicable Me did little to inspire me with confidence. Yes, I like Steve Carell, and yes, those little yellow minion things were pretty cute; but the plot described by the trailers didn't seem very deep or interesting, and it all reminded me a bit too much of Shrek crossed with Inspector Clouseau. Still, after several weeks of nothing good to see (what, like I was supposed to see Twilight 3?), I had to see something. And so I decided to give Despicable Me a shot.
I can't say that I was blown away, but I was at least not disappointed.
Despicable Me is a nice, light, fluffy movie about a professional super- villain - emphasis on the "professional" - named Gru. Gru looks like the Penguin and has the managerial skills of... well, an archetypical Very Good Manager. He doesn't want to hurt anybody; he just wants to do cool (if evil) things (and maybe make a young child cry every now and then). He primarily does evil deeds in order to earn the money in order to do more evil things; and in the mean time, he employs a small army of yellow minions, who he knows by name and cares about individually, as well as a top-notch mad scientist.
It's ludicrous, of course, but it's played fairly straight; and that actually turns out to be the main reason that the movie was fun to watch.
The actual plot of the movie connects one of his schemes with his adoption of three young girls. This doesn't turn out to be a very deep or interesting story; at best, it strings together a bunch of cute, fairly pointless scenes that hint at a world more evil than Gru could make, but the movie sees no reason to explore this. This turns out okay; the movie's multiple levels of cuteness turn out to make up for quite a bit.
But really, it was the little minions that made the movie. They looked amusing in the trailers, sure; but given that they were interchangeable automatons, it was interesting to actually enjoy watching them on screen. They were cute, they were intelligent, and they were a little bit evil; but mostly, they looked like corporate employees that were actually having a good time. It worked for me. I look forward to seeing these characters again.
I was pretty fond of the animation, or at least was never particularly bothered by it. The art was stylized and smooth, but not particularly played for laughs in and of itself; and this was a good thing. Even the 3D was acceptable; I'm not sure that it really added a lot, but it didn't hurt, and I didn't feel exploited for having paid for it.
All of that said, I do recognize that I used words and phrases like "acceptable" and "not disappointed" a lot in this review. This movie was not great, but it was watchable and relatively fun. It may not be a movie that I'd be excited to go out and see again, but I'm happy enough that I saw it. If more kid's movies were like this, the world would be slightly more pleasant.
I went in with low expectations, and these expectations were surpassed. This still ends up with an average movie; but sometimes, average is fine.
In other news, the trailers for the other movies were horrible! Why are we subjecting the country's children to garbage like Alpha and Omega, Cats vs Dogs 2, or Smurfs? Even the Megamind trailer is pretty bad, though I suspect I'll at least see that one. sigh There's a reason I'm happy that this movie was average...