Directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin, and writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio animate a fun PG-rated story with enough clever details to keep adults awake. There’s more than tossed-off signage for Bank of Evil (formerly Lehman Brothers). At the same time, in different places, kids can feel let in on ways grown-ups really see little ones when off-duty from good parenting. Calling bedtime storybooks unbelievably bad literature is the endearing meanie, the character cited in the self-aggrandizing title of “Despicable Me.” The villain Gru (Steve Carell, voicing his “Middle European” accent) conspires to acquire a gizmo belonging to a younger villain named Vector (Jason Segel). Pleasing his soul-stomping mom (Julie Andrews) keeps Gru going. This people-hating overcompensator thinks that kidnapping a miniaturized moon will impress the known world. He adopts a trio of orphaned sisters once he sees these plucky cookie pushers can furnish a tactical cover for penetrating Vector’s lair and grabbing his miniaturizer. But the crusty Gru falls for the tykes and an unlikely family takes form. The largely gratuitous 3-D CGI is an opportunity for a gag at the end wherein Gru’s impish, chirping minions compete at constructing bridges further and further towards the audience. WIth the voices of Russell Brand, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Danny McBride, Miranda Cosgrove, Jack McBrayer, Mindy Kaling. 95m. (Bill Stamets)
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.