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Despicable Me

Some children want to grow up and be a Firefighter, others a Doctor, and even some want to be President of the United States.  Not Gru.  At a young age his mother crushed his childhood fantasies of being an Astronaut and now all he wants to do is be the world’s number one super villain.  He’s just got one problem.  The newcomer villain keeps outshining him.

This has to be fixed.  You cannot be the number one villain if someone keeps outdoing you.  So, Gru has a plan.  Backed by his Twinkie-looking minions, Dr. Nefario (grandfatherly inventor), and a whole lot of motivation, Gru is going to make the ultimate heist that’s out of this world.  No, seriously, he’s going to steal the moon!

So much easier said than done, though.  You see, in order to pull off such a heist, you have to have financing, shrink-ray guns, spaceships, mission control, and on goes the list.  That’s a mighty lot of things; guess it’s time to start checking things off and getting things done.  Gru starts off well, but when he comes to the shrink-ray he has one serious problem.  Unfortunately the shrink-ray has landed in his rival’s lair after being stolen from him.  Fortunately though, his rival has a weakness; Girl Scout cookies.  So all he needs to do is adopt three little girls and have them infiltrate his rival’s lair.

If only adopting three little girls was as simple as a check in the box.  What Gru doesn’t have on his list is how to care for these girls and keep them at arm’s length in order for his plan to go off without a hitch.

Delightful

Gru may start out a villain, but by the end of the film Gru’s orphan using plans have changed and he actually learns to care about his three little charges.  We begin to see Gru soften to the girls midway through the film (the transformation is a bit underdeveloped, I think), and he learns to make sacrifices along the way.

The two oldest girls start out not buying Gru’s obvious façade of parenthood, but Agnes (youngest) chooses to love Gru anyways, without abandon.  These girls are really the saving grace of this movie.  Their interactions with the different characters bring smiles (particularly with Gru and the minions) to the audience and lighten the tone of the movie.

Perhaps one of the most touching parts of the film is when we see a super softened Gru read a bedtime story to the girls and finally give them their much coveted good night kiss.

Other positive elements are depicted when Gru’s mom finally offers Gru praise (she is proud of him as a father) and the portrayal of the girls and the minions helping back Gru in his dream (financially and morally).

Despicable

The negative points of this film are fairly few, to be honest.

Typical toon-styled violence is shown, reminiscent of the Roadrunner and Wiley Coyote.  The only truly disturbing depiction in the film is when we are led to believe that Edith has been skewered by an iron spike and blood appears to dribble out the bottom of the chamber.  We soon learn it is a punctured grape juice and not Edith herself, but it was certainly a bit shocking the first time I watched the movie.

The most dastardly of speeches uttered in this film are phrases like “Oh my gosh,” “oh, poop” and “he’s gonna kick your butt”, making this a clean film in terms of language.

Sexual content is probably the most frequently occurring negative element to the film, although everything is kept tame enough to still have a PG rating.  There is a very brief scene that involves lycanthropy and shows a wolf changing into a naked man (silhouetted and only seen from the waist up), as well as coloring pages being shown of Gru on the toilet.  In fact, Gru has quite a bit of embarrassing moment in the film.  During a mission mishap Gru’s minions grab at him and end up depantsing our main character, causing him to dangle by his boxers.  Later on Gru’s mother shows photos of a naked baby Gru proclaiming “look at his little buns”.  Another butt joke is played when the minions decide to photocopy their yellow rear ends. The movie wraps up with a couple of shots of Gru dancing, grabbing his posterior and shaking it for the cameras (Gru’s rival acts similarly, only he spanks himself in his dancing routine).

During the course of the film there is some mild behavioral challenges with the girls, particularly a scene where Agnes holds her breath in order to get her way.  The orphanage supervisor locks kids up in a box entitled “The Box of Shame”, and Gru lies about who he is in order to be able to adopt the girls.  Also, for those of you who are sensitive to toilet humor, there is a fart gun displayed (and used) in the movie.

Gru’s mother, as I stated earlier, has never been very supportive, and tells her son “You’re too late, son, NASA isn’t sending up monkeys anymore”, but she plays a very small role in the movie and holds little sway on the audience.

 Conclusion

The film starts slow, honestly.  My Daddy was just about to lose interest in even hanging around to watch the movie, but stuck around because the girl’s storyline with Gru began to pick up.  When all is said and done we are left with the delights of family winning out over a life of villainy, but the path to get to that point wasn’t as strong as it could have been.

The movie is far from terrible and has some cute scenes (particularly Gru’s first experience with reading bedtime stories), but in the end I didn’t have much to say about it, good or bad.  Which for me, as many of you know, is rare.  I either like it or hate it.  This movie didn’t rile me one way or the other, making it something I could watch again, but wouldn’t go out of my way to see.

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Despicable Me

After someone steals the Great Pyramid, mean-spirited Gru is put under pressure to prove to the world (and his mom) that he’s still a profitable villain. But the sarcastic and confident bachelor has the perfect plan – to steal the moon. To complete his missive he must infiltrate a rival villain’s lair and seize a shrink ray gun. Thankfully, his enemy has a soft spot for the cookies sold by the girls from the orphanage. Gru adopts three sisters to use as a ploy, but he soon realizes he may have bitten off more than he can handle.

Accompanied by his army of adorable “minions,” Gru is forced onto a roller coaster ride (literally) where he has to decide which is more important – being a super villain, or being a super dad. Despicable Me captures the chaotic tale with slapstick humor and crazy characters. The sweet storyline and goofy minions stole my heart instantly, but the content of the film left me with mixed feelings. Here’s why.

The Super Good

The plot is a classic tale of reformation – Gru loses his heart to the rambunctious orphan girls and begins to waver in his pursuit of evil. Even though we’ve seen it before, the transformation from self-centered to loving is no less wholesomely charming.

One aspect of the film I found surprising and endearing is Gru’s relationship with his minions. Unlike many careless evil overlords, Gru knows his minions by name and seems to have a working friendship with them. He is a fair employer and they are happily loyal to his projects. The positive attitude in Gru’s lair is quite refreshing and sweet.

Gru struggles with being rejected as a failure. His plans and dreams are mocked by the bank that supplies his funding, just as they were scorned by his mother during his childhood. This rejection is rebuked as Gru learns to support the girls’ pastimes and hobbies.

The Super Bad

Despite all of the charm of the story, the movie is tainted by rather prolific use of crude humor. There are frequent gags involving bathroom humor, underwear, and immodest gestures; there are even a few shots with nudity obscured just enough to keep it PG. There are also a few instances were death, blood, and villainy are portrayed as funny in an off-kilter fashion. This is, unfortunately, a significant concern regarding the movie.

While it is not necessarily unwarranted, the girls – particularly the eldest – are far from well-behaved. They do not listen to Gru’s orders at first and are quite hard to manage. While this helps him come around, it is worth noting that the girls’ attitude is not admirable.

One thing about the film I found kind of confusing is the nature of the orphanage. The head mistress is not a caring person and is sometimes a bit unethical. While the film does not portray this as good, I felt that it was a bit unrealistic and shouldn’t have gone unaddressed.

In Closing

Despicable Me is an adorable story with quirky characters. I enjoyed it and will perhaps watch it again on occasion, but the crude humor prevents the film from being something I can enjoy repeatedly. If you watch it, prepare the fall in love with the minions – but if you’re looking for clean fare, I would suggest picking up a different movie.

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