Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Movie Review: Despicable Me

This about sums up my feelings towards this movie.

Have you ever seen something that was supposed to be cute, but just ended up being weird, dumb, or outright creepy? Like a clown your parents hired for your birthday that gave you nightmares for years afterwards? Or perhaps a doll your parents gave you when you were three whose eyes follow you around the room? The film Despicable Me is a little like this, only stupider. It’s supposed to be a cute, happy, somewhat silly story about a “villain” who realizes he’s actually a nice person, only absolutely nothing in it is believable, cute, or in any way interesting. Indeed, some parts even manage to be unintentionally creepy, sort of like that clown you have that recurring nightmare about (you guys get that too, right?).

Of course, some of you might be out there thinking, “OK, it’s a children’s movie. Sure it’s a little silly, but it’s amusing and cute, and the only people who actually dislike it are people who HATE JOY.” Well, first of all, let’s get one thing straight. I do hate joy. With a passion. Happy people make me sick. So do rainbows, teddy bears, and unicorns. I hate them all. Almost as much as I hate sarcasm. And sentence fragments. Some people say sarcasm is the lowest form of humor, but I’m pretty sure the humor of Despicable Me is lower even than my (admittedly pretty low) sarcastic rant. It’s the worst kind of stupid kid’s movie humor: jokes about bodily functions, and slapstick to the point of morbidity. The main character gets chomped on by a shark, punched by little boxing gloves that pop out of walls, and exploded so hard that he crawls out of a crater in the ground. If this were a Zack Snyder film, it would have an R rating slapped on it faster than you can say “this is Sparta.”

This is Sparta.
But come on, you say, it’s a kid’s movie. You gotta suspend your disbelief, man. Well, first of all, any movie where you have to tell people to suspend their disbelief is a bad movie, but this movie doesn’t just ask you to suspend your disbelief, it comes to you on bended knees begging to please, please suspend your disbelief because, I mean, come on, it’s a children’s movie! And it’s cute! Yeah, no. Nothing about this movie is in any way believable, from the premise (villains competing to steal progressively bigger monuments, replacing the Pyramids with blow-up balloon replicas, etc.) to the physics to the characters to the adoption rules to the relationships.

The film never once appears to even consider pretending to think even once about maybe doing something that could be even vaguely construed as original. Literally every part of this movie is cliché. The main character, Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), is a supervillain (with no superpowers) who drives around a monstrous death machine (with no guns) as his car, just to show that, see, he’s BAD. Only, you know, not really. Because he still has to get funding for his evil plans from the Bank of Evil. I am not making this up. But he has a rival, Vector (voiced by Jason Segel), who keeps showing him up and stealing his shrink ray. This is the excuse to show Gru getting blown up to a ludicrous extent, including one time where his airplane is shrunk in a sky chase, so he has to putt-putt home on an airplane smaller than he is. Passing over the laws of physics (just like the movie) this scene isn’t even funny, it’s just stupid, impossible, and doesn’t ask us just to suspend our disbelief, but to drag it kicking and screaming up to the gallows and holding our disbelief’s arms behind its back until it’s been strangled to death.

And no matter how creepy and impossible in real life that image is, it is nowhere near as horrific and implausible as the central relationship of the movie, between Gru and three plucky orphan girls he adopts in order to help him break into his rival’s home, due to their ability to sell cookies. No, seriously. He goes to their orphanage, where day after day the poor children have to sell cookies for the uncaring and possibly abusive runner of the orphanage, while always hoping to be adopted by some nice, caring person. Of course Gru adopts them, intending only to use them, but then becomes affectionate for them, until eventually he realizes that his heart has grown two sizes, blah, blah, blah, you can imagine the rest. This plot is so ludicrously cliché, unimaginative and overused that you almost miss how willfully creepy and unbelievable the actual relationship is. For some odd reason there are THREE small children. No one can remember their names, because no one cares. There’s Unicorn Girl, Hat Girl, and Older, Jaded, Mother Figure Girl. Why there isn’t just one girl escapes me. Perhaps if there were only one child to adopt the makers of the film might have had to, I don’t know, actually give her a character, which would apparently have just been way beyond the capacity of these guys. This relationship is so unbelievable and faked that (especially with Steve Carell’s greasy fake accent) it almost smacks of pedophilia.

This isn't funny, it's deeply unsettling.
The movie did, I will admit, make me laugh on occasion when the characters almost seemed to be mocking the movie itself, but only ever for extremely brief moments after one throwaway line. My favorite example of this is when, after a sickeningly obvious bonding experience at a carnival where Gru wins a unicorn for Unicorn Girl, they come home and run in the door, and Unicorn Girl just yells “IT’S SO FLUFFY!” in an endearing small child growl. Unfortunately, the movie only appears to have these amusing moments by accident, and whenever the movie is supposed to be funny, it never ceases to fail. Gru’s absurd henchmen, the adorable yellow blobs you see in previews all over the place nowadays, are the most toxic example of this. They are clearly created to be a child’s fondest memory, yet only manage to come across as idiotic, pointless, and occasionally unintentionally frightening. The pure unbelievability of this film, as well as its unintentional horror, comes across best at the end, where, due to a botched attempt to steal the Moon (me when I hear that: not amused) the bad guy ends up stuck on the Moon while Gru and the children and the minions party. Somehow, he is also dancing along to their music to show children “See! It’s OK to ruthlessly eliminate your rivals! They’ll be OK with it! Especially if you’re a bumbling loser! Also, being launched into space doesn’t result in gruesome death!” Calling this movie “escapist” is an insult to the rich genre of escapism.

Some movies take a silly concept and are a little too serious about, when they’d be better off embracing the silliness and being amusing, but Despicable Me has opted to go the other way. It took a stupid concept and then embraced its stupidity to a nauseating extent. This movie is never cute, and funny only by accident. While, yes, it is a children’s movie, and so a certain amount of silliness is to be expected, children who watch this movie are less likely to be entertained, and more likely to be mentally scarred as well as significantly more likely to suspect brutal thugs of being friendly loners who just need more small children in their lives. The only instance in which you should go to this movie is if you, like Gru, have multiple small obnoxious children you don’t particularly care about that you need to keep busy for two hours. And even then, only if someone else is paying for the movie.

Overall rating: Dislike

Death and Glory, 


  1. Oh shoot... We're gonna take so much flak for this...

  2. Joseph. I was not in any way disappointed by your public hatred ranting skills. Bravo.

  3. Peter... BRING ON THE TROLLS! * said with devillish voice*

    Joseph... I'll troll a little myself. Stupider is not a word. tehehe. No but really I find it funny how Despicable Me has become to you what the Last Airbender was to me aka the worst thing to be released this year.

  4. Hey, Slauer, guess what? You're wrong. Stupider is a word. Dictionary.com and 'Soft Word agree with me. You lose, run home now.

  5. Oh shoot... We're gonna take so much flak for this...


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