Saturday, July 10, 2010

Despicable Me - Moi, moche et méchant

Despicable Me is one of the few movies I've ever described as "cute" in my entire life.

Because that's what it is; it's adorable. It's the kind of movie that makes you laugh until you're suddenly tearing up and cooing at the screen.

However, my initial impression was less favorable. I had seen a scant preview prior to another film and it came across as yet another gimmicky computer-animated 3-D movie riffing off of the success of The Incredibles (one of my all-time favorite animated movies). It was also unclear what the movie was even about - the promotions I'd seen made no connection between the quirky-looking minions and the movie's odd title.

The movie tells the story of Gru (Steve Carrell), a grouchy second-rate villain whose star is falling fast next to evil nerd extraordinaire Vector. In order to steal the trade secrets of his rival, Gru commandeers three disarmingly cute orphan girls to break into Vector's defenses.

The orphans, Margo, Edith and Agnes, find their way from Gru's ulterior plot into his heart, and the result is one of the best bedtime stories ever.

Of course, it wouldn't be an animated children's movie without its share of humor, which is mainly provided by the adorable minions - yellow jellybean-type guys that speak in gibberish - and Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), a British mad scientist of a sidekick. Miraculously, somehow the filmmakers managed to incorporate the standard fart and poo jokes in a fresh way. I'm thoroughly impressed.

The reason I mention the film on this blog is because it was directed by the Francophone team of Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin, who also voice most of the minions.

They do poke fun at overweight American tourists in the movie's opening scene, but are quick to poke fun back at themselves with a mime guarding the Eiffel Tower in a subsequent scene.

Overall, the filmmakers made good use of many of the tropes of both supervillain movies and computer-animated children's movies. It's one of the rare occasions on which I've disagreed with The New York Times' critics.

The film will be released in France in October under the title Moi, moche et méchant. No matter which language you decide to see it in, it's well worth it.

Photos: Courtesy

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