Despicable Me (U)

Family (2010)
94mins US

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Russell Brand, Steve Carell, Jason Segel
Director: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Writer(s): Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Criminal mastermind Gru is outclassed by new villain on the block, Vector, who steals one of the ancient pyramids. With his reputation on the line, Gru plots his most daring escapade yet: to steal the moon from the night's sky. To accomplish this feat, he adopts three orphaned girls, Margo, Edith and Agnes, who can infiltrate Vector's high security laboratory and help him steal a shrinking ray gun.

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LondonNet Film Review
Despicable Me

Thanks to the wizards at Pixar, we gleefully expect one magical computer-animated film every year and Toy Story 3 certainly didn't disappoint...

(L to R) Edith (DANA GAIER), Agnes (ELSIE FISHER) and Margo (MIRANDA COSGROVE) in Despicable Me. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment. Copyright: © 2009 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.However, 2010 is shaping up to be a vintage period for the medium with the high-flying How To Train Your Dragon in March and the delights of Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga'Hoole and MegaMind still to come. In between, we have Despicable Me, a hilarious tale of evil versus evil that delivers a frenetic 94 minutes of laughter, edge of seat thrills and heart-warming sentiment. Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud create a colourful adventure that will charm audiences of all ages, peppered with swingeing one-liners guaranteed to have parents chortling over their popcorn. There are some great throwaway visual gags: when the Machiavellian central character applies for a loan from the Bank Of Evil, he passes a plaque which reveals the establishment was formerly called Lehman Brothers.

The criminal mastermind at the centre of the mischief is Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), who seethes with envy after new villain on the block, Vector (Jason Segel), steals one of the ancient pyramids and replaces the monument with an inflatable. With his reputation on the line, Gru plots to steal the moon using a shrink ray gun from Vector's laboratory. However, the lair is heavily fortified so Gru adopts three orphaned girls, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher), and cleverly uses the children to breach the defences. Gru's elderly mentor, Dr Nefario (Russell Brand), supplies the nifty gadgets for the high stakes mission. By the time Gru has purloined the shrink ray, the curmudgeon has forged a bond with the girls and he must contemplate giving up his life of crime to become a father or send them back to the orphanage.

Despicable Me. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment. Copyright: © 2009 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.Screening in 3D in selected cinemas, Despicable Me maintains a jaunty pace as Gru goes head-to-head with Vector and continually comes off second best. Carell teases out the warmth in his boo-some baddie, who has to endure a snide, bullying mother (Julie Andrews) and a neighbour (Danny McBride) whose dogs "leaves bombs" in his yard. The three girls have well-defined personalities, from the gushing enthusiasm of little Agnes, who spots a toy unicorn at a fairground and squeals, "It's so fluffy, I'm going to die!" to fiercely protective oldest child Margo and delightfully deadpan Edith, who quips, "When we got adopted by a bald guy, I thought this would be more like Annie." Action set pieces are orchestrated with brio and tongue wedged firmly in cheek, and the film makes good use of the 3D format including some tomfoolery with Gru's minions over the end credits. A wickedly entertaining treat for the whole family.

- Kim Hu

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