So, ok, Pixar (Monsters Inc, Ratatouille) is hard to beat….. BUT... a serious challenger is Despicable Me (2010), by Universal’s Illumination Entertainment. Again, it is primarily for kids, but can equally be watched and enjoyed by a crowd of adults! It is light and refreshing, perfect to watch when you are tired and do not want to think too much, for instance!
Mr Gru (voice Steve Carell) is a villain who, as we find out, as a childhood with an indifferent, borderline abusive, mother (voice Julie Andrews, unforgettable Mary Poppins, love her).
Young Gru: Mom, someday, I'm going to go to the moon.
Gru's Mom: I'm afraid you're too late, son. NASA isn't sending the monkeys anymore.
A real villain, he is assisted by Dr Nefario (voice Russell Brand) and his minions to commit crimes: stealing the Statue of Liberty (in Las Vegas) and the Eiffel Tower (still in Las Vegas!) are among his career highlights. When Vector (voice Jason Segel, from TV show How I met your Mother) puts his reputation as the world’s greatest villain in jeopardy by stealing the Great Pyramid of Giza, he plans an even greater heist, stealing the Moon.
Gru: We are going to pull of the TRUE crime of the century... we are going to steal the MOON!
To make it happen he needs the assistance of three orphan girls, that he adopts without really having realized what he is in for.
Gru: It's like my heart is a tooth, and it's got a cavity that can only be filled with children.
Gru: [to the girls] You will not cry, or sneeze or barf or fart! No annoying sounds.
The three girls are of course not ready to be used, and their mutual affection grows. Agnes, the youngest one, is in particular the greatest, and about as cute as Boo!
Agnes: [looking at the stuffed unicorn] It's so fluffy, I'm gonna *die*!
Not sure how much for kids this is! I found the reference “Bank of Evil, Formerly Lehman Brothers” particularly hilarious. And the head of the bank actually looks like Dilbert’s boss.
It is charming, hilarious and exciting. The whole story is just… too much, and that’s what makes it great. Stealing the moon?! Even better, we are gradually sympathizing and rooting for the villain! One particularly hilarious and clever thing is the effects of having no moon for a few minutes: quick flash, pay attention! Particularly loved the werewolf.
Even the minions are great! They are present but do not overshadow the other characters, and in the end their antics mean there is a nice side of fun throughout the whole movie.
And to end:
One big unicorn, strong and free, thought he was happy as he could be. Then three little kittens came around and turned his whole life upside down. They made him laugh, they made him cry. He never should have said goodbye. And now he knows he can never part from those three little kittens that changed his heart.