The normal inclination is to scream “boo, hiss” whenever the villain appears on screen in a melodrama. This animated feature-length cartoon from the writing team of Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul (“Horton Hears a Who!”) forces the audience to refrain from passing judgment on the title character, a diabolical bad guy named Gru.
Steve Carell (“Horton Hears a Who!” and “Over the Hedge”) uses a strange Hungarian accent that he describes as a cross between Bela Lugosi and Ricardo Montalban in vocalizing this bald, hook-nosed hunchback with a penguin-style frame.
The movie opens with tourists in Egypt discovering that the Great Pyramid at Giza has been replaced by an inflatable replica. This theft by obnoxious newcomer Vector (voiced by Jason Segel) triggers the competitive juices of a jealous Gru to regain his moniker as the world’s greatest villain. Gru comes up with a sinister plan to steal the moon. He needs money to build a rocket so he goes to the Bank of Evil to apply for a loan. The bank president Mr. Perkins (Will Arnett) turns him down and remarks that “far too few of your sinister plots turn a profit.”
With the help of his assistant Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), a genius at inventing devices despite a hearing deficiency, and his loyal army of Minions (goggled and grinning miniature yellow thumblike creatures attired in denim overalls who speak gibberish), Gru swipes a powerful ray gun that will shrink the moon and make it transportable.
Vector, decked out in an orange jumpsuit, takes the gun away from Gru. In order to penetrate Vector’s well-guarded fortress, Gru adopts three adorable orphan girls selling cookies door-to-door.
This trio could have come right out of “Annie.” Bespectacled Margo (Miranda Cosgrove from the popular Nickelodeon show “iCarly”) is the ringleader of the group. She is the oldest and tallest. Edith sports a pink stocking cap and is the most inquisitive. The runt is black-haired Agnes, who likes to cling to arms and legs.
Gru lays down the household rules. They are not allowed to touch anything. They are not to bother him when he is working in his basement laboratory. They are to remain quiet and not make any annoying sounds. Their room has bunk beds made out of hollowed-out bombs.
These strong-willed tots have their own agenda. They insist on Gru taking them on a roller coaster ride, reading bedtime stories and attending their ballet dance recital. They see Gru as a father figure and attempt to turn his world upside down by melting his cold heart.
Gru’s attention-seeking behavior can be traced to an unsupportive and impossible-to-please mother (the legendary Julie Andrews).
This heist caper comes full circle with charming goodnight kisses in a happily-ever-after conclusion.
The clever and original story is filled with memorable characters. The movie is very funny with the slapstick shenanigans of the Minions providing lots of laughs. It is worth spending the extra bucks to see it in Digital 3-D with special glasses as you are constantly bombarded by hovering objects throughout the action sequences. This premium format is best utilized over the end credits when the Minions engage in a reach contest to escape the confines of the screen and jump into the laps of the audience. The movie is best suited for children who can read, about ages 7 and up. Every youngster will want their own toy Minion to take home. Parents will appreciate and enjoy this movie on a distinctly higher level. The running time of 95 minutes is perfectly geared to match a child’s attention span.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"