Despicable Me: Oh, just shut up and see it

Those kids sit through a lot of things for you. Will it kill you to see a super cute movie with lasting entertainment value for the whole family?

After a string of blockbusters, I swore up and down that the next movie I saw would be something a little finer, something to jostle my brain out of that “Hey it’s summer and everything is so HOT and I sort of feel like doing nothing but sliding into this chair and then gazing at the screen while I check in and out of the action” thing. In fact, I’m trying right now to remember what I’ve even seen this summer, and it’s honestly escaping me. But is it such a bad thing to pay for a few hours of cool entertainment, then walk out of the theater and forget the whole evening even existed?

Oh no, ouch, all of the Sex and the City 2 memories just came stampeding back. But in general, though, you know what I’m talking about. Summer movies are sometimes a little slippery. I saw Get Him to the Greek a few weeks ago (four stars!) and my recollections of it are quite dim at this point, so I figured, what the hell, I’ll allow my spouse to choose the film tonight. Chances are I’ll retain very little, so what does it matter?

So I’m sitting in this theater scrutinizing the five-year-old next to me through my 3-D glasses and wondering what either of us are doing at an animated film at 9:30 at night. Then both of us look over to my other side to see the gleefully upturned face of the plastic-bespectacled 36-year-old who brought me here, and we share a meaningful sigh. Giant kids these days, am I right?

Despicable Me is a digitally animated children’s comedy that cleverly features the voice talents of comic actors that the kids’ parents and fundholders really like. And, like most big kiddie movies these days, the script is jam-packed with grown-up jokes that make you wonder why all the kids are laughing so hard. The action revolves around an Uncle Fester-esque, beak-nosed misanthrope named Gru (Steve Carell) and his ambitious quest to become the world’s most infamous villain, with the aid of his own personal scientist, the aged Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand omgomg), and his devoted minions, who look like yellow earplugs with arms and feet. There’s been some new villain activity lately (Someone stole a pyramid! Can you believe that s***?), and Gru is on a quest to steal the biggest possible thing he can think of. Think you know what it is? Think again!

An integral part of his plan is the adoption of three orphan girls, each more adorable than the last. They are not stoked to be suddenly thrown in with a grouchy, bald guy who may or may not be criminally insane, but their cheeky little pluck melts the hearts of the audience, the minions, and eventually Gru himself (in that order). The question remains, how does one achieve one’s life goal of supervillain fame with three big pairs of eyes looking up at you for reassurance? How many of you would believe me if I told you that they ultimately despise each other, and the three girls turn Gru in for the reward, taking their money and zooming off to Vegas? I think we can all agree that there are no spoilers here. With this kind of film, it’s only your kids who aren’t quite sure what’s going to happen. That’s their problem though, the little squirts. We can sit back, gloat in our well-developed adult brains, and indulge in some pleasingly sharp comedy of both the verbal and physical varieties.

Yes, comedy you’ll find, but 3-D wizardry you will not. I know that 3 is the D of the future, but for a film like this, save the extra cash and just enjoy the jokes. It’s clear that the film was altered at the last minute in order to catch up to what is supposed to be the New Big Thing, and the hurried effect is sloppy. Suddenly, your eye will be riveted to a seemingly unimportant section of the screen that somebody missed when 3-Ding it up, and the resulting comparison jars you our of the action and reminds you that you’re sitting in a theater wearing Drew Carey glasses and giggling at yellow earplugs with your new five-year-old pal.

So, while Get Him to the Greek yielded a day or so of lingering amusement (but like I said, four stars!)*, there will be a couple of Despicable Me lines that I will still be yelling at the top of my lungs weeks and maybe even months from now. You certainly can’t say that about every summer movie, except, now that I think about it, Sex and the City 2.

*This number has been calculated based on my memories of my amusement levels during said film and then multiplied by the new Russell Brand factor that I will hereby be applying to everything.

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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