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There are a lot of adjectives to describe Steve Carell's film roles. Goofy, outlandish and stupid are just a few words that quickly come to mind. Despicable certainly isn't one of them. However, his role as the super-villian Gru in Despicable Me is an exception. Donning his best Russian accent, Carell tries his hardest to be one of the most fiendish CG characters we've ever seen -- at least for most of the movie.
When we first meet Gru, he's popping a child's balloon animal and using a freeze-ray on everyone at the local Starbucks to get his morning muffin. He has a lot on his mind, including his horrible childhood and current plot to steal the moon.
However, after roping in three orphans to help thwart equally fiendish plans from his rival, Vector (voiced by Jason Segal), he soon learns something that can be more evil than any evil plan: Parenthood. His plight will melt your heart, even though it's not technically his first stab at having little ones. He actually has quite an army of minions that are simply called Minions and resemble squeaking tater tots.
While all of this sounds like a prime playground for 3D, for the most part, it's not. Despicable Me's 3D is far from despicable, but it isn't exactly doing this movie any favors either.
First of all, the 3D isn't very good. It's nowhere near the disaster that is The Last Airbender. Here, you do get some depth, but it's not even close the lifelike, gorgeous display Pixar gave Toy Story 3. Speaking of gorgeous colors, this film doesn't have too many. Because of the 3D, the film comes off a little dim. The colors from the trailers, commercials, and little Minions that have been dancing across the bottoms of my favorite TV shows for the past year have way more pop. Instead of "dumbing down," this 3D is guilty of "dimming down."
That's not to say there isn't any cool 3D imagery here. Unfortunately, most of it doesn't come until about two-thirds of the way through the movie. There are some great 3D shots in the amusement park, as well as the climactic space scene. Also, for totally unknown reasons, directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud saved some of the best 3D scenes for the absolute end of the movie. Images of Minions reaching out, extending a tape measure, swinging, and being shot out of a canon are cute and very cool, but completely missed by the people that don't know they are supposed to stay through the closing credits.
Universal doesn't work the Pixar magic with the image, story or 3D here. That said, Despicable Me is heartfelt with more than a few laughs, making it well worth the ticket price. If you are willing to sacrifice a bit of color, the movie should keep you more than entertained until the best 3D effects kick in.
[Image: © 2010 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.]
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