Steve Carell (Gru), Jason Segel (Vector), Russell Brand (Dr. Nefario), Julie Andrews (Gru's Mom)
Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud
From IMDB: When a criminal mastermind uses a trio of orphan girls as pawns for a grand scheme, he finds himself profoundly changed by the growing love between them.
We took the girls to see this on opening weekend. I really like Steve Carell, and to be honest I was curious about an animated movie that came from neither DreamWorks nor Pixar. How can this be?? The trailer was also very good, with lots of funny gags. Most kid movie trailers make me cringe, like this one. Ew.
I liked this movie for two reasons. First, it worked well for the girls. Some movies for kids try to hard and make the plot overly elaborate, which requires a lot of whispered explanations on my part. I remember Happy Feet being that way, and not just because the girls were younger. Here they laughed, they followed along, and they came away with several favorite parts when the whole thing was finished.
Second, it didn't try to be too scary. Sometimes the suspenseful music and crazy action sequences can simply become too much. This was exciting and engaging in several sequences, but it never went over the top toward genuinely trying to give the kids a heart attack.
And finally, I enjoyed it. I know this must sound self-centered, but any parent who has to sit through children's movies knows what I'm talking about. Pixar set the standard for making kid flicks palatable. My girls would watch just about anything. They have very few standards, so they really cannot be trusted with regard to what is bearable by adult standards.
Despicable Me took the Pixar process a step further by actually making comedy out of the trials of parenthood. I really don't know if people without children would find this as amusing as I did. Much of the humor was aimed directly at parents sitting in the theaters next to their little ones. The comedy was basically derived by holding a mirror up to our lives, especially having daughters. Even Juliette and Ilsa understood the connection. They came away with several "just like me" examples from the film, and why that was funny.
Oh, and the minions stole the show. I can foresee many minions spinoffs in the future, and lots of tie-in toys. But at least for the moment Despicable Me stands by itself as quality, funny family entertainment.