Despicable Me review - It helps to be super if you’re a super-villain.
But while he may have the underground HQ, the legion of minions and the nefarious schemes, Gru (Steve Carell) is a rather ordinary megalomaniac: a suburban grouch continually bested by his cocky rival Vector (Jason Segel) who can’t even interest his mother (Dame Julie Andrews) in his diabolical plans.
That might change if he succeeds in his latest plot, an outlandish attempt to make off with the Moon.
To do so, he’ll need to recover a stolen shrink gun his nemesis has pinched – something he will only manage with the aid of three orphaned kids whose Girl Scout cookies are all Vector will open his front door for.
Combining Incredibles-style hardware with a Shrek-esque protagonist, Universal’s first foray into the 3D toon marketplace can’t help but feel derivative.
But to judge by its bumper US box office, its target demographic don’t notice or care, the scene-stealing antics of Carell’s little yellow henchmen and the Bondian gadgetry doing much to mask a clunky narrative riddled with sentimentality.
The latter pitches up once Gru starts warming to his adopted brood, reaching its nadir in an excruciating scene that sees him read them a bedtime story about three hungry kittens.
You can’t imagine Blofeld being that lame. Nor did he ever have to go cap in hand to his bank manager to fund his aspirations, one of several strange logic gaps (why doesn’t Gru simply steal the money?) that should really have been filled in at conception stage.
None of the above should stop you laughing, Despicable scoring funnies satirical (Gru’s ‘Bank Of Evil’ used to be Lehman Brothers), scatological (the trump gun knocked out by Russell Brand’s geriatric Q) and slapsticky (the minions testing the 3D’s limits during the end credits).
But it does suggest Pixar’s ‘story is everything’ maxim has yet to filter down to its competitors.
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Balanced a tad uneasily between action fantasy and redemptive heart-tugger, this frenetic CG animation has an identity crisis as big as its hero’s inferiority complex. That said, it’ll do until Megamind arrives.