Review of Despicable Me

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Gru is a lousy neighbor by day and ruthless super villain by night. Hidden beneath his neglected home and yard full of dead grass is a vast secret hideout. Here, Gru has been planning the biggest heist in the history of the world. He is going to steal the moon!

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Movie Review: "Despicable Me" --

Rating: PG
Length: 95 minutes
Release Date: July 9, 2010
Directed by: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Genre: Comedy, Animated
Cast: Steve Carell, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, and Jason Segel
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Director Chris Renaud knows how to make an animated movie that appeals to kids, thanks to his work on "The Book of Pooh," "Robots," and "Ice Age: The Meltdown." He combines those talents with his work on "Despicable Me," which paired him with codirector Pierre Coffin who worked on "We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story."

While most movies aimed at children tell the story from the hero's point of view, "Despicable Me" is a movie dedicated to the villain. Gru (Steve Carell, "Dinner for Shmucks," "Date Night") is a super-villain who never loses. He lives in a small house in the middle of a suburb and runs his operations out of a lair underneath the house. Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand, "Hop," "Arthur") is his partner in crime, and he also has thousands of tiny yellow minions.

The movie opens when a new super-villain named Vector (Jason Segel, "The Muppets," "I Love You, Man") moves into town. Vector is a dorky guy in jogging suits, but he manages to upstage Gru at every turn. When Gru decides that he wants to build a shrink ray and shrink the moon, the bank won't give him the money unless he builds the ray. Before he can steal the ray, Vector beats him to it. He then decides to break into Vector's house, but the security measures that Vector has stops him at every turn.

Gru comes up with a new plan: He will adopt three girls and use them to get into Vector's home. After a visit to Miss Hattie's (Kristen Wiig, "Bridesmaids," "Whip It") Home for Girls, he takes home Margo (Miranda Cosgrove, "iCarly"), Edith (newcomer Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher, "Dirty Girl). The super-villain quickly learns that kids take time, and he finds himself running around to help them instead of working on his evil plans.

While the early parts of the film have a few funny moments, it isn't until Gru brings the girls home that the movie really finds its footing. Gru bred his minions to help him with his plans, but the minions warm up to the girls. Some of the funniest moments come when the minions start playing dress-up games with the girls.

"Despicable Me" is a movie with heart. The girls quickly learn to love Gru, and even though he has evil intentions, they are willing to do anything to help him. In one cute scene, they offer him their piggy bank and all of their money just so he can fund his shrink-ray plans. Their love and affection for him are so strong that some viewers might get choked up when Gru misses their ballet recital. The scene of the little girl with the enormous eyes sniffling and quivering her little lip while waiting for him is almost heartbreaking.

The best scenes in the movie are those that involve the minions. These little guys are so popular that they later starred in several short movies. With their tiny, little bodies, big eyes, and bright yellow color, any child who watches this movie will want a minion toy of their own. The minions are the ones who first realize the importance of the girls.

As "Despicable Me" progresses, Gru begins developing feelings for the little girls himself. He finds himself caught between his life and his dreams of being a super-villain with his love for the girls. Though he originally wanted to use them to get into Vector's home and even tried to leave them at an amusement park, he realizes that loving someone isn't so bad. Gru's mom (Julie Andrews, "Mary Poppins," "The Princess Diaries") appears in several scenes to remind Gru of what he was like as a child.

The problem with most movies marketed to children is that the films have little to offer any adult watchers. That is not true of "Despicable Me," because this is a movie suitable for both kids and adults. Some of the jokes will make adults laugh, while flying over the heads of children in the audience. The directors toss in a few jokes about the economy and society that kids might not understand, but the jokes will appeal to any adult fans.

"Despicable Me" isn't a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination. Some of the scenes seem to go on for too long, including the interactions between Vector and Gru and the scenes where Gru rants about his problems. There are also a few scenes that try too hard and fall flat, but those scenes are few and far between. The combination of humor, fantastic animation, and heart will appeal to old and young alike. If you are looking for a movie for the whole family, "Despicable Me" is that one.