I had to make an executive decision today, due to the fact that a bout of flu sabotaged my movie-going abilities over the last week. To see Made in Dagenham or Despicable Me. Initially, I went with the idea of Made in Dagenham until I reflected more about whether I really did want to see a film about Dagenham. I don’t demand that films have to be about scenic places and I also admit that industrial places can have a certain splendour. But not Dagenham. So Despicable Me 3D it was.
This brings me on to another gripe. Despicable Me was released in the US on 9 July. It was released in the UK on 15 October. There is nothing that anyone can say to me to make me think that this gap is all right. Another gripe: the film was prefaced by a trailer for Yogi Bear. That is beyond the pail. For heaven’s sake, there were children present! Which reminds me, the cinema filled with an entire classload of nursery school children. They looked about 4 years old. There were more of them than the film had little yellow goggled creatures. Fortunately, they had so much to eat they were too busy to be noisy, until the end, when their heightened bloodsugar made them exit the cinema by actually climbing over all of the seats in front of them, like a relentless, merciless waterfall of killer ants.
Reminding myself that this is a film review, I am delighted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Despicable Me. One of the aspects of 3D cinema that I do like is its ability to add a whole new dimension and element (if done well) to an animated feature. I experienced this with How To Train Your Dragon? (is that DVD ever coming out…?) and Toy Story 3. The same added fun happened with Despicable Me – it will do nothing to add to Yogi Bear. The 3D here blended with the film perfectly, adding depth not headaches. It is at its most obvious in a wonderful rollercoaster scene that may make you want to hang on and in clips that cut through the closing credits.
The story: The world’s biggest villain (Mr Gru) has just become the world’s second biggest villain thanks to Vector, an orange-clad, wii-playing fish fetishist who stole the Great Pyramid and replaced it with an inflatable model. Mr Gru aims to reclaim his villainous crown by stealing the moon, with the help of his army of little yellow minions and the creating genius of Dr Nefario. It turns out that Mr Gru cannot succeed in his dastardly plan without the help of three cute orphans – something to do with cookies. It doesn’t take too much imagination to foresee how this pans out. But the story’s unfolding will charm your socks off.
Despicable Me succeeds in another way – it lets me forget that Russell Brand is the voice of the short, fat Dr Nefario and for that I am grateful. Steve Carell, someone else for whose movies I wouldn’t go out of my way to see, also faded away behind the larger than life Mr Gru; a character so fantastically realised and, dareIsay, elegant, I felt for a while that I had stepped into the animated posters that lined the walls of Gainsbourg. I’m only just now learning that the warty mother’s voice was that of Julie Andrews herself.
But the evil elegance of Mr Gru and the geeky fanaticism of Victor – aka Vector – with his fishy horrors, have fantastic support in the shape of three designed-to-be-adorable little girls who really do tug on the heartstrings as they set out to buy love through selling cookies. And then there is the army of ‘ruthless menacing minions’ who all look the same on first glance but aren’t. Different eyes, different hair, different expressions, but all share the same desire to please, at whatever cost to their own comfort.
There are a couple of gags targeted solely at the bigger people in the audience – in the bank scenes for example – but generally the humour is for everyone, whatever their age. And, bearing in mind that much of the world has already seen it, I’d urge everyone who hasn’t to take a look. No sign of Dagenham anywhere.