Reviews of Despicable Me (2010) and related work

Despicable Me (2010Moving picture, 95 minutes)

Seen in 2019.

One good joke: The Bank of Evil that funds stupid supervillain plots for ransom is “formerly Lehman Brothers”. Several good mechanical designs: I like all of Gru’s stainless-steel 1940s-style rocket vehicles. The US parochialism in here is really weird though, in a way the sequels don’t repeat. The opening scene at the Giza pyramid complex looks so little like the real Cairo that it qualifies for the kind of orientalism coming out of Disney in the 1950s. Steve Carell had to use an unfunny generic East-European-ish accent because such accents stereotype the foreign as evil. An actor who actually knew how to talk like that would be less famous or even more expensive than Carell, whose considerable talents are wasted here. The minions are not done particularly well; compare the SD cops of Re: Cutie Honey (2004).

References here: Megamind (2010).

moving picture animation fiction

Despicable Me 2 (2013Moving picture, 98 minutes)

Seen in 2019.

Lucy the superagent. Some monsterism.

Better than the original. The minions, in particular, are treated with a lot more care: Their patchwork language is more developed and their song parodies are so well done that they’re actually enjoyable. The influences from The Incredibles (2004) are stronger, and while that’s derivative, it’s a logical direction for the story to take. I like the super-superficial date girl.

References here: “Puppy” (2013), “Training Wheels” (2013).

moving picture sequel animation Japanese production fiction

Minions (2015Moving picture, 91 minutes)

Seen in 2021.

The weak plotting and characterization suit the concept just fine, but I do wish ordinary people had reacted more strongly throughout.

References here: “Santa’s Little Helpers” (2019).

moving picture spin-off animation Japanese production fiction

Despicable Me 3 (2017Moving picture, 89 minutes)

Seen in 2019.

Twin brother.

Broken at the writing stage. Nefario is cut out by a silly reference to Empire (1980). The minions get similarly disconnected by a non-plot but the writers evidently didn’t have the guts to leave them out of the movie. Gru’s family situation develops rapidly and randomly into Spy vs. Spy, but it’s never funny. Ruritanian Freedonia is wasted. The villain has good potential but Terry Parker doesn’t get the voice quite right.

References here: “The Secret Life of Kyle” (2017), “Minion Scouts” (2019).

moving picture sequel animation fiction

“Minions & More 1” (2022Moving picture, 48 minutes)

Seen in 2022.

Seen in one sitting, without prior experience of the contents.

An anthology of shorts from the Illumination animation studio, known until 2017 as Illumination Entertainment.


moving picture spin-off animation fiction