The supervillain, the three Annies and the million minions



Supervillain, Gru, and his willing minions.



After the disaster that was umpteenth Shrek, comes an animated film that is both entertaining and witty, though perhaps a tad predictable. Despicable Me is Universal Pictures’ first CGI feature and Pixar may have to watch out.


In a friendly suburban neighbourhood stands the dark and dreary house of the world’s greatest villain, Gru (voice of Steve Carell). He is the kind of man who takes pleasure in popping children’s balloons and watching them cry. Beneath his house, Gru has a secret laboratory where, he, his assistant – the aptly named Dr Nefario (voice of Russell Brand) – and their myriad yellow, pill-shaped minions develop all kinds of gadgets with which to take over the world.


But, Gru’s reputation is threatened when another baddie steals the pyramids and makes headlines as the world’s new über villain. Gru realises he needs to pulls off his greatest heist yet – stealing the moon. However, his funds are as miserly as he is and, thus, he approaches the Bank of Evil (formerly Lehman Brothers – really) for a loan. Gru’s credit rating is akin to that of a student and he is told he has to steal the shrink ray he needs to complete the job, before he will receive the money.


To Gru’s consternation, his nemesis, the annoying and geeky Vector (voice of Jason Segel), procures the shrink ray before he can. Now, Gru has to steal it back from Vector’s fortress and Gru is at his wits’ end. After all, what kind of villainous legacy can one leave when trumped by a teenager whose greatest invention is a piranha gun? 


When three orphan girls selling cookies knock on Gru’s door, he formulates a master plan. He decides to adopt Margo, Edith and Agnes (voices of Miranda Cosgrove, Elsie Fisher and Dana Gaier), so they can sell cookies to Vector and distract him. In the meantime, Gru and a couple of minions steal the shrink ray. The scenes of the break in and subsequent theft are as hilarious as they are tense.

The three little Annies, who steal Gru’s heart.

After this, the story unsurprisingly turns into Annie. The girls draw on Gru’s walls, demand he walk them to ballet classes and destroy his lab. Nevertheless, while Gru is, at first, not the kind and loving father they had hoped for, the orphan trio crawl turns his heart to mush and all of a sudden he’s Oliver Warbucks.


Carell is known for his comic timing in the U.S. version of The Office (*note – which is not nearly as funny as the original British version) and his German-accented Gru is no different. The dialogue is filled with enough real-world reference for adults to appreciate, while children will love the cute, bumbling minions and naughty children – a perfect family film then.


Despicable Me has been released in 3D, something that has become an unfortunate trend with animated films. The gimmick is wearing off and the in-your-faceness of this technology often detracts from the story and animation itself. Rather spend the money on popcorn and Slush Puppies and leave the cinema with the fuzzy feeling created by the series of ‘awe’-moments at the end, instead of a headache.


Directors: Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud
Cast: Steve Carrell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews
Rating: 3½ out of 5

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