It had been a while since we had a good, old-fashioned Hollywood face-off in the tradition of Antz versus A Bug’s Life or Armageddon versus Deep Impact, but 2010 spoilt us with not one but two Incredibles-apeing ’toons.
Despicable Me conclusively beat Megamind with the critics and at the box office, and while it’s as incapable of matching the far tougher foe Pixar as any other CGmation, it’s worth remembering that there’s no shame in playing The Omen to its Exorcist.
Universal’s first dip into the crowded CGI market shows great promise. It’s no half-hearted toe in the water – you don’t hire Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand and Danny McBride on the cheap.
Whatever the cost, they do the business – Brand in particular – and if a stunt-cast Julie Andrews disappoints, Will Arnett delivers. The story their voices service concerns nasty supervillain Gru (Carell), whose dastadly plotting requires that he enlist three young orphans, whom he detests on sight.
Naturally, they melt his heart – and co-directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud play things just the right side of cloying.
Where they really score is in the subversive design: much of the animation was done in France, and there’s a fantastically Gallic feel to most incidental characters, their features caricatured in a way a US artist wouldn’t dare to.
Even better, despite being a clear attempt to create a studio mascot, the tic tac-like minions who make up Carell’s private army are a comic hit, and contribute greatly to the irresistibly likeable whole.
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