"Despicable Me" is the latest from "Ice Age" and "Horton Hears a Who" producer Chris Meleandri. The picture is an amusing little romp, focusing on Gru (voiced by "The Office" star Steve Carrell, doing a voice that sounds Austrian), an evil genius that looks somewhat like if Dr. Evil was reimagined by Tim Burton as a Saturday morning cartoon character. As the film opens, a tourist accidentally stumbles on the fact that a legendary pyramid in Egypt is a fake, and has been stolen by one of the world's various villains.
After a discussion of their recent villainy with his minions (cute little creatures that look like squashes and are certainly designed to sell toys) and an amusing discussion with his mother, Gru heads out to try and top all the other villains by (drumroll) stealing the moon. What would an evil plan be without stopping at the Bank of Evil first? Note the sign as Gru walks in what's possibly the most amusing gag in the film. Gru tries to steal a shrink ray in order to get his plan going, but he's foiled by new bad guy Vector (Jason Siegel).
Seeking a way into Vector's fortress, he comes up with a quick plan: adopt a trio of girls Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher) who he sees gain access by selling Vector cookies. Although the girls pull off the distraction so that Gru can grab the shrink ray, he starts to have second thoughts about ditching them after they have a fun day at the local theme park. As the days go on, he even thinks about postponing his launch to the moon in order to be there for the girls' dance recital - and he begins to enjoy the idea of becoming a father.
The movie's reliance upon bathroom humor in a few scenes (fart gun instead of dart gun - ho, ho) is a little disappointing, but quite a few genuinely clever sight gags make up for it, as well as some very amusing one-liners. The performances are also stellar, with Siegel offering an unrecognizable, over-the-top performance that's hysterical. While Carrell sounds a little like Mike Meyers trying to do a character, he offers enough depth and feeling to the character to make it memorable.
The film's animation quality isn't up to much of the sort of big-budget animated fare seen these days, but by the end of the film I really felt as if I'd enjoyed the story quite a bit. Overall, "Despicable Me" is a nice surprise.
This set offers a Blu-Ray edition, DVD copy edition and digital copy edition.
VIDEO: Universal presents "Me" in 1.85:1 (1080p/AVC) and the transfer is certainly a nice presentation of the material. While the animation doesn't display ultra-fine details, the picture quality remained rock-solid, appearing crisp and detailed throughout the running time. A slight touch of edge enhancement was spotted in one or two scenes, but the image was otherwise clean and smooth. Colors looked first-rate, appearing bright and bold, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The show's DTS-HD 5.1 presentation offers some clever use of the surrounds in order to deliver effects during some of the more intense sequences, but the audio is otherwise fairly front-heavy, with crisp, well-recorded music and dialogue.
EXTRAS: An audio commentary with the pair of directors (and the Minions) is offered, and they deliver a fine track, with a good deal of information about the technical details of the production, working with the actors, story and other elements. "The World of Despicable Me" is an enjoyable promotional featurette that provides an overview of the production. We also get "Voices Of Despicable Me" and "A Global Effort", which meet with the cast. We also get a featurette on the music, recipes, games and Blu-Ray Live content. Finally, we also get three new short films starring the Minions.
Final Thoughts: "Despicable Me" isn't without a few faults, but the film is otherwise a nice surprise and improves as it goes along. The Blu-Ray edition offers solid audio/video quality and a nice select of supplements. Recommended.
The Film B+