Despicable Me nefariously uncovers endearment amongst the loveless. Villains, more often than not, are typically the most intriguing characters within a story. From super-powered megalomaniacs yearning to control the universe to fanatic psychotics keeping their idolised authors strapped to a bed. A well-executed villain’s motive harmonises with the protagonists. Gru, a proud yet ageing villain, desires nothing more than to become the greatest super villain that had ever lived. His current nemesis, cookie-loving Vector, has stolen the Great Pyramid of Giza, so to better him Gru decides to utilise a shrink ray to minimise the moon and steal it. The Bank of Evil, his rivals and his own neglectful mother would then appreciate him as the malignant villain he wishes to become.
Coffin and Renaud’s family-friendly animation could easily have maintained this central plot thread to create nothing more than a goofy exercise in superfluous colour manipulation, particularly given Illumination’s constant usage of vibrancy and fluidity. Instead, Paul and Daurio’s screenplay introduces a plot device, well, three plot devices, that rapidly integrate with the central narrative to produce an entirely different direction. Margo, Edith and Agnes. Three orphaned girls that Gru agrees to adopt so that he can use their cookie-selling skills to infiltrate Vector’s impregnable fortress and steal the shrink ray. This enables an abundance of character development for Gru, who gradually warms to the girls and confronts fathering duties. Children, once again, curing hearts enveloped my venomous poison, offering cuteness in all its fluffy unicorn wholesomeness. Despite Gru’s abrupt character alterations when he takes the girls to an amusement park and suddenly realises he “will never let go of them”, even though a second beforehand he was daydreaming about their abandonment, Despicable Me consistently remains solid throughout its heartfelt familial story that perpetuates the love adults have for their children.
The script supplies plenty of witty lines of dialogue that allows Carell’s exaggerated voice to provide boundless amounts of laughter with younger audiences. And if his talent doesn’t work, Gru’s minions sure will. Yellow, babbling, Tic Tacs equipped with dungarees and goggles. Some might describe them as cancerous, given their nonsensical behaviour and fatigued saturation over the years, however they function best in this feature. More often than not, they remain integrated to the story and less of a side distraction to ensure laughs through derivative slapstick humour. Are they still annoying to the point of wanting to commit genocide? Oh, absolutely. But tolerable nonetheless. Segel supplies buoyant energy voicing Vector, with viral lines such as “curse you teeny tiny toilet”, whilst equipped with clinically designed technology juxtaposing Gru’s handmade approach. Brand as sidekick Dr. Nefario was forgettable to say the least, eclipsed by his co-stars.
Then comes the soundtrack, infamously associated with Pharrell Williams. Less annoying than his theme song in the sequel (I despise “Happy” with an almighty passion), the tracks he provides have a calmer tempo and suit the scenes they accompany, “Fun, Fun, Fun” in particular. Concluding on a dance-a-thon to a classic song, this time The Bee Gees’ “You Should Be Dancing”, is all too reminiscent to a far more superior animated feature ‘Shrek 2’.
Alas, Despicable Me remains the best of the franchise and the best feature Illumination Entertainment have produced. So sweet and fluffy that one could “die”. Regardless of the franchise motif minions (that spin-off was inevitable...) and the rushed character development, this family animation boasts colourful visuals and a heartfelt narrative that almost competes with Pixar’s and DreamWorks’ weaker features. Almost. Anyway, “IT’S SO FLUFFY!”.