“Despicable” is too harsh an evaluation for the animated 3D kid magnet du jour, Despicable Me. I’d go with “Bland Me” or “Direct-To-Video-Worthy Me.”
The anti-hero, voiced by Steve “I’m Leaving The Office To Star In Forgettable Movies” Carell, is a pointy-nosed Dr. Evil clone named Gru who wants to pull off the biggest heist in history. Something even bigger than what Sex and the City 2 did to throngs of unwitting Carrie devotees. He wants to launch a rocket skyward, zap the Moon with a shrink ray then keep it for himself.
Gru treats the world the way LeBron James does the Cavaliers. He makes kids balloon animals just to pop them in their faces. He laughs in the faces of minions who demand raises. He’s the kind of guy who , if left to your own devices, would fill up your DVR with MTV reality shows so there’s not enough room left for True Blood.
I’d have been content with watching Gru continue to spread his brand of palatable evil for 95 minutes, but the filmmakers see fit to give him a heart of gold. Gru adopts a trio of sisters with the sole reason of sending them to a rival’s evil lair to help him steal that shrink ray he needs. But they bring out his softer side, and you don’t need to take your 3D glasses off to see where this decidedly one-dimensional story is headed.
Carell lends little of his personality into Gru, and instead blends an Eastern European accent with a series of grunts, joining with the writers to make Gru the least interesting character in the film. The sisters, Annie-like scamps who have the best lines, are more watchable, but the real winners are the minions, runt-sized yellow blobs of slapstick incompetence that resemble Pac-Man ghosts. Whenever the little guys leave the screen you long for their return.
Usually Luke, my 3-year-old, and I see eye to eye on kid movies. But our roads fork here. The little man cackled endlessly at jokes intended and not, and was genuinely interested in the utterly nonsensical story that didn’t whip up as much drama and tension as the too-slowly-advancing numbers onmy cell phone clock. So parents, you’ll definitely want to spare yourself some boredom and send your 3-year-olds out alone to watch this one.
Starring the voices of Steve Carell, Jason Segel and Russell Brand. Written by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul, based on a Sergio Pablos story. Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud. Rated PG. 95 minutes.
Phil Villarreal’s humorous money-saving book, Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel, is available on Amazon.