Given the disappointing competition in movie theaters as of late, animated features are rapidly becoming the last bastion of imaginative, family-friendly entertainment. Not that there hasn't been a share of animated duds, but Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon have been two of the best movies of 2010 so far. Despicable Me deserves to join that short list for similarly doing just about everything right.
At the heart of the film is Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), a bald and angular grouch from Eastern Europe, judging by the unusual name and Carell's goofy accent. He also happens to be a super-villain with a secret lair in a conspicuous looking dark house in the middle of sunny surburbia—chances are good that The Addams Family were previous owners. It's there that he plans devious schemes with his inventive, codgerly partner-in-crime Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) and served by hundreds of little minions that resemble little green potatoes with appendages, goggles, and denim overalls.
Gru's latest project—to shrink and steal the moon—runs into a snag due to lack of funding. And the Bank of Evil won't provide a loan until Gru first shows some progress. It doesn't help that up-and-coming super-villain Vector (Jason Segel) seems to be having more success with his schemes, including swiping the experimental shrink ray that Gru needs for his plan. What's an evil mastermind to do?
Gru is not a nice man at the start of this film; there's something vaguely Count Olaf (from the Lemony Snicket books) about him. We're talking about the sort of villain who'll comfort a crying child by making a balloon animal for him … and then pop it before his eyes. He'd even pretend to be the perfect father to adopt three little ...