You'll scream. They all scream!
It doesn't surprise me one bit that Despicable Me comes from many of the minds behind Ice Age, because in terms of what's wrong and right with them, these films could be identical. They've the same gleefully insane sense of humour, the same oddball tone that feels free of the usual sanitization that most other non-pixar CGI films have. Everything is lovingly exaggerated, which makes it a feast of a visual experience. But there's also the same unapologetic sentimentality, which is either cynical or way too earnest, that becomes a little hard to swallow. But no doubt that's just me being a sallow grouch, right.
Parts of the film, just as parts of Ice Age were, are inspired. There's the awesome opening sequence, which to put it simply involves a fat ginger kid diving face first into the Pyramid of Giza. Then there's the rivalry between Steve Carell's elder supervillain Gru and younger, upstart villain Vector (voiced hilariously by Jason Segel, who was probably my favourite thing about the movie) which provided plenty of over the top, looney tunes-esque action that is executed with such joy and panache that its hard not to love this movie during these moments, and although I've no doubt this movie was expensive as shit, a great effort has been made to make it feel lovingly low-key and handmade. This is true for Gru's legion of minions, which basically act as this movie's scrat, being hilarious off in the corner when things get a little too treacly. Basically an army of That Yellow Bastard's shrunk down and made about 1000 times cuter, they are good value and no doubt will shift in merchandise.
Its a shame then when it remembers it has to have a plot, and once the three cutesy kids come along, things got a little less enjoyable for me. Granted there have been more insufferably irritating kids then these, and the youngest one Agnes manages to occasionally be funny as well as cute, but generally it veers to much toward the latter to be acceptable. For me at least. And as with Ice Age, the character arcs are way too simplified, particularly that of Gru, whose story may as well have been put up in lights to tell me it was happening whilst it was happening.
Still its hard to hate on a movie this inventive, and its the kind of film to set kids imaginations going rather then putrefy them into some Shrek shaped blob of nothing. The parts I liked got me through the parts I didn't, and this film isn't even aimed at me, so. Man I feel like such a killjoy douchebag. Which brings me peace.