I’m not usually that picky with it comes to animation. Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs all got a 5 out of 5 from me. While How To Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3 were amazing feats of film-making in their own respects, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs struck a different cord in me. The movie had the same humor style of a lot of the cartoons I grew up with like the greater days of Spongebob, having this goofy style of humor that’s really outlandish but is still wrote really well and completely takes you off guard causing you to burst out into laughter. The movie also took me by surprise with some really great and relate-able characters. Despicable Me is the new film by Sony Pictures Animation written by Chris Meledandri, the same mind behind the Ice Age franchise. The story follows Gru, a renowned villain who is constantly battling fellow villain and arch-enemy, Vector. Gru adopts three orphans that are down on their luck in hopes of using them to finally defeat Vector. Despicable Me does a lot of things in an interesting way, but it doesn’t do a lot of things great. It has its eyes set on being the next classic so much that it forgets the bear basics of that and in the process be distinct. The animation unfortunately isn’t the sharpest in the world, not really living up to the beauty of How to Train Your Dragon or the mastery of the art like Toy Story 3. Despicable Me gets some fair use of scale in some OK-looking environments, but the overall character design just comes off a little lazy and amateur. I understand when you want your characters to look distinct, but some of the people in this movie were just sorta ugly. The movie does work off of a great concept, but the execution to me was where the movie started to sputter. The film too often throws characters at the screen that are really one-dimensional and almost come off as placeholders. They never really had any personality, and it’s like they take for granted that we have to connect with characters that are actually interesting and have deeper characteristics than EVIL or CUTE. Even the dad in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was greatly developed and hysterical with only 20 minutes of screen time. They toss in these minions that they assume will have the audience rolling in laughter, they throw in the little orphan girls that will hopefully be delightfully adorable and cute, and it all comes off as a really strained effort when you realize the movie’s trying too hard to please you. Even Gru, our main character, never feels more developed or “human” than a passing character in a regular movie, mainly b/c we’re told what to think about him and never get to learn on our own who he is and why we should love him. That being said, the film has its moments of hilarity. A lot of the segments with the minions got some good laughs out of me, and there are a few great moments with Steve Carrell’s character and his accent that got far more than a chuckle or two from me. However, the jokes in the film can also be a little too scatter shot and they end up shooting for a lot of different jokes to get the highest laugh ratio, which in a sense felt annoying. The voice cast is formidable in the movie, even if it’s not fully utilized. Steve Carrell steps outside of his normal schtick for some fun work, and both Jason Segel and 30 Rock’s Jack MacBrayer have some great parts. Russell Brand and Will Arnett both have some really funny parts in the film as well for comedy veterans to look out for. All in all, Despicable Me was more of a miss for me. I would definitely say skip until DVD unless you absolutely have to see an animated film AFTER seeing Toy Story 3. On paper, Despicable Me is an absolute winner, but by trying to be everyone’s favorite movie, they missed out on some great opportunities to get huge laughs and tell a memorable story.
2.5 out of 5