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Buttered Popcorn Movie Review: “Despicable Me”

Originally Straight From The Recliner was supposed to be a review website that looks at the latest batch of movies and TV. Instead the reviews morphed into a fun, retrospective look at what we have watched from the ’80s and  ’90s (two eras most of you grew up in). Therefore I feel obliged to review at  least one new movie currently screening in a cinema near you. If there’s one movie that screams everything new in movies (i.e. CGI, 3D, new celebrities) and since the school holidays has wrapped up, today we are discussing the family-friendly hit Despicable Me.

Despicable Me

Produced by Universal Pictures, Despicable Me is about a no-goodnik meglomaniac named Gru (voiced by Steve Carrell) who plans to steal the moon with the help of his trusty sidekick, Doctor Nefario (an almost unrecognizable Russell Brand) and his motley crew of monsters simply known as “minions”. However when his scheme is challenged by a younger, Jerry Lewis-esque villain Vector (How I Met Your Mother star Jason Segal), Gru adopts three orphan girls to, unbeknownst to them, help him conduct his most evil plan yet.  Will Gru complete his mission or will he turn from superbad to superdad?

Before I watched this, I had zero expectations for Despicable Me. Apart from seeing the trailers and TV commercials, there wasn’t much hype towards this CGI film compared to franchise juggernauts, Toy Story 3 and Shrek Forever After. Thankfully, Despicable Me is better than I thought. Similar to last year’s Disney/Pixar film Up, the film has the same lovable “grumpy man grows a kind loving heart” formula but still be in a league of its own. The graphics are fun to watch and almost has a French cartoon feel with the looks of the characters’ faces and setting. Although the latest trend of making movies in 3D are overrated, Despicable Me is one of the rare films that took the 3D gimmick to its full potential especially during one scene involving a shark and later, a roller coaster. You don’t have to watch this film in 3D however as the movie is good alone.

Normally, I can’t stand A-list Hollywood actors providing voices in big-budget animation films. Why spend millions of dollars in getting a celebrity to voice one character where you could get a full-time professional voice actor who can uniquely play TEN characters (i.e. Rob Paulsen, Grey DeLisle, Billy West, etc). Usually most of A-list celebrities in animation sound bland and they are just being themselves behind the microphones. For example, I cringed when I saw boy band N’Sync in a Simpsons episode. On the contrary, the celebrity cast in Despicable Me are actually good.  Steve Carrell was a treat to hear as the European-accented Gru. Jason Segall  brought cockiness to the film’s real villain, Julie Andrews is surprisingly cynical (therefore funny) as Gru’s mother and mentioned earlier, Russell Brand steals the show as the old nutty professor. So the producers of Despicable Me did a great job of assembling an all-star cast that actually sounds good in animation.

So if you want to see a fun animated movie that does not have the Disney or Dreamworks logo at the start, go for Despicable Me. Like most CGI movies out there, you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy it.