Gru was once the greatest super-villain of them all but is now facing obscurity and bankruptcy. In order to reclaim his status as the ultimate evil genius, he devises an elaborate plan to steal the moon. However, he not only has to contend with an ambitious young rival but also with three orphaned girls who are becoming increasingly fond of him.
The 3D computer animation Despicable Me is comparable to Pixar’s 2004 The Incredibles, which was about superheros living everyday lives. The idea of instead focusing on a super-villain facilitates lots of jokes about balancing the crazy inventions and plans for world domination with suburban domesticity. While lacking the sophistication of The Incredibles, Despicable Me is still a fun series of throwaway gags and slapstick; balancing its black yet family-friendly humour with moments of sincerity that never feel saccharin.
Steve Carrell is great voicing Gru and the animation feels like a faithful extension of his personality and physicality. The army of Beaker-like minions also provide plenty of laughs but they also have a lot to do with the film ultimately being a series of fun gags rather than something more cohesive and satisfying.
Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 363, 2010