Saturday, July 10, 2010

Movie Review: Despicable Me

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So for months now we've been seeing these enlarged mutated corn pops with either one or two eyes wearing goggles and overalls everywhere; certainly in the trailers for the movie. But in ads for different products, restaurants and even Best Buy...we'll talk about Best Buy in a moment. Well this weekend were were able to find out what they are all about in the release of computer animated Despicable Me.

Turns out these little yellow pills of humor are called minions who adoring love their boss Gru (Steve Carell)

and would follow him to the ends of the Earth. They listen to him, cheer for him and almost completely fawn over Gru as they carry out his plans. They truly epitomize the very definition of minion meaning a loyal servant of another, usually more powerful being. Did Gru find them somewhere and offer them a place to work like Willie Wonka did for the oompa-loompas? Were they the result of a genetic or radio active experiment on Twinkies gone wrong? We don't know and quite frankly we don't care. Watching them help Gru with his plans is funny.

And just what are Gru's plans? Well, after his stealing of the Statue of Liberty and Eiffel Tower replicas from Las Vegas, someone else stole the Great Pyramid from Egypt. Gru decides he wants to step up his game and steal the moon! Why the moon? Well, it's out there, it's big and everyone would notice if it was gone and maybe, just maybe he'd gain his mother's approval in the process. In flash backs we see Gru who has a dream constantly being nonchalantly dismissed by his mother (Julie Andrews). For a change of pace instead of daddy issues, this character has mommy issues!

Gru turns to Dr Nefario (a very subdued Russell Brand) to help design the necessary tools to carry out his plan. Gru is the idea guy dependant on hard of hearing Dr Nefario to fill in the details with the gadgets and gizmoes necessary for Gru's diabolical dealings. Due to a couple of misunderstandings between Gru's nondescript eastern European accent and Nafario's hearing issues, there are a couple of surprising creations made. Ultimately, Gru needs a shrinking ray and rocket to steal the moon. Luckily Dr Nefario doesn't need to make the shrinking ray gun, it already exists. Gru just needs to steal it from the new upstart Super Villain in town Vector (Jason Segel).

In come Margo, Edith and Agnes (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, and Elise Fisher), three orphans who Gru will adopt and use to gain easy access to Vector's highly guarded contemporary and stylish lair. Does he care about the girls? Nah, they are just pawns to be used in the bigger picture. As the plans for capturing and ransoming the moon move forward, the girls manage to steal Gru's heart at the same time. He hadn't planned on that! Just like the Grinch didn't expect his heart to grow three sizes after his raiding of Whoville that fateful Christmas day.

Are there some laughs in the movie? Yup, there are some good laughs in there. One of the minions looks like he stole Ned Flander's mustache. Some minons have dual purpose functionality. Gru's totally un PC transportation would make SUVs seem heavenly in an environmentalist's eyes. What the story lacked was a cohesive plot to smoothly keep it all together. It was enjoyable to watch, but not a very memorable watch.

One thing you want to remember to do is to stay and watch the credits, especially if you are going to the 3D version. I saw the 2D version. The minions came out and were doing some pretty funny things and I'm assuming in 3D they would have been funnier and even funnier still if I had been able to understand what they were saying. This is where I now rip into Best Buy. There were promotional materials telling you to go to their web site to download a minion translator app. Goto this page, send a text to that number, even at the theater they had posters and stand ups with QR codes. Get the app they beg you. Turns out that the app is only good for iPhone, Androids, Blackberrys and Windows mobile phones. Any other type of phone and you're screwed. For all the advertising they put in for this promotion and how limited it was, I give Best Buy a big FAIL!

The movie ran for 96 minutes and was rated PG for some rude humor and mild action. They also received tax credits for making the film in France. I wonder if that's why the Eiffel Tower and a mime both appear in the film. I wouldn't be surprised that when Christmas rolls around you'll be able to go to your local big box or toy store and get a customizable minion for yourself or a loved one. I would also expect the Sleepy Kittens book to be there on the shelf next to the minions!

The Movie Monkey

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