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Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher
Writing Credits:
Ken Daurio, Sergio Pablos (story), Cinco Paul

Superbad. Superdad.

Vying for the title of “World’s Greatest Villain”, Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) – along with his hilarious crew of mischievous minions – plots to pull off the craziest crime of the century: steal the moon! But when Gru enlists the help of three little girls, they see something in him nobody else has ever seen: the perfect dad. From executive producer Chris Meledandri (Horton Hears a Who, Ice Age), and featuring the voices of an all-star comedic cast, including Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Miranda Cosgrove and Julie Andrews, Despicable Me is “rousingly funny, heartfelt and imaginative” (Pete Hammond, Boxoffice Magazine).

Box Office:
$69 million.
Opening Weekend
$56.397 million on 3476 screens.
Domestic Gross
$250.252 million.

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 12/14/2010

• Audio Commentary with Directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin Featuring the Minions
• “The World of Despicable Me” Featurette
• "Despicable Beats” Featurette
• “Gru’s Rocket Builder” Activity”
• “A Global Effort” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Despicable Me (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 19, 2011)

In 2010’s Despicable Me, we’re asked to root for the bad guy. The computer-animated flick introduces us to Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), a nefarious genius who wants to claim the title of “World’s Greatest Villain”. Along with his horde of Minions, he comes up with a variety of plots to achieve this goal.

Gru’s big plan? He wants to steal the Moon! But he runs into challenges, most of which stem from a new rival: nerdy but heavily-funded Vector (Jason Segel). Gru finds himself constantly lagging behind his new foe’s achievements.

Another unexpected complication occurs when Gru meets three orphan girls named Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher). He first encounters them when they attempt to sell him some products to satisfy Miss Hattie (Kristen Wiig), their demanding guardian. Gru initially rebuffs the girls, but he takes them in when he realizes they could help him defeat Vector. Along the way, Gru finds himself increasingly attached to the kids.

Usually when I dislike a movie, I can easily relate the reasons for my disaffection. Other flicks make it more difficult because they lack any obvious flaws. On the surface, they seem like they should work, but they just don’t.

Despicable Me falls into this category, unfortunately. When I saw the flick theatrically, I looked forward to it. I love animation, and the movie’s trailers promised a glib, clever skewering of the usual comedic action-adventure. Basically, it seemed like it could be a Bond picture that focused on Blofeld.

While the flick does occasionally deliver laughs, an awful lot of it falls flat. Little about it truly engages. Much of the material strikes me as though it should be funny, but something’s missing. Though the results kept me reasonably entertained, I usually found myself just a wee bit on the bored side.

And for the life of me, I can’t say why. Even the Minions – the film’s breakout characters – don’t do a whole lot for me. They feel like they should be wacky and original, but instead, they’re just kind of… meh.

Like the rest of the movie. I can’t fault the actors, as they do their best, but they also don’t manage to present any genuinely memorable bits. In addition to the performers I listed, we get folks like Julie Andrews, Russell Brand, Will Arnett and quite a few other notables. They should deliver fun turns – so why do I feel so vaguely disenchanted?

I certainly like the film’s premise, and we’ve seen proof that the “root for the bad guy” idea works: fall 2010’s Megamind provides a much more successful exploration of that theme. Despicable Me lacks the same cleverness and zing. It never becomes a bad movie, but it feels like a disappointing mediocrity.

Footnote: if you hang out through the end credits, you’ll find some additional silliness from the Minions. These gags will be more fun if you’re watching the 3D Blu-ray, though; they were clearly meant for that version of the flick. (The hijinks end by 1:30:45, so you don’t need to hold on longer than that.)

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Despicable Me appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered disc; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 sets. Given the restrictions of SD-DVD, the movie looked pretty good.

For its format, sharpness looked positive. Softness did affect wider shots, but that was inevitable. Overall definition remained fairly solid. No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and I saw no signs of edge haloes. Source flaws remained totally absent as well.

Colors became a highlight. The movie enjoyed a broad palette, with a lot of purple at the core. A wide variety of other tones appeared as well, and all of them looked rich and dynamic. Blacks were dark and deep, and I thought shadows seemed smooth and clear. This was a very nice SD-DVD transfer.

Though also not killer, the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack worked well. My only complaint connected to some of the action scenes, as they didn’t always boast the expected level of activity. For instance, when Gru chased Vector in their flying machines, the track seemed surprisingly restrained; the vehicles zipped around a bit but failed to take great advantage of the possibilities.

Still, much of the movie demonstrated good range and activity. The forward channels did the most damage, as they showed nice movement and integration. The surrounds offered a reasonably solid level of involvement as well, with only the occasional exceptions like the aforementioned air chase to relatively disappoint.

Audio quality excelled. Speech was consistently natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music appeared bubbly and bright, while effects showed good power. Those elements offered positive accuracy and heft throughout the movie. Nothing here dazzled, but the track usually suited the film.

A few extras accompany the film. First we find an audio commentary from directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin; the Minions also occasionally show up to interrupt. The commentary covers cast and performances, animation and effects topics, character, prop and set design, audio and music, and story areas.

Many commentaries for animated films can veer toward dry technical material, but this one’s much peppier than that. Renaud dominates and gives the piece a good energy level. We also learn a ton about story/character topics, which means we hear of changes made and alternate ideas. We still get good animation details as well, and the additional of the Minions adds a bit of comedy; they show up enough to amuse but not enough to annoy. This turns into a consistently strong commentary.

During The World of Despicable Me, we get a 15-minute, 16-second show. It features Coffin, Renaud, screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul, producers Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy, production designer Yarrow Cheney and actors Steve Carell, Miranda Cosgrove, Jason Segel, Russell Brand and Julie Andrews. “World” examines characters and story elements, set and gadget design, and other movie thoughts. While not unenjoyable, “World” exists as a general promotional featurette. This means it lacks much depth, so although it’s peppy and moderately engaging, it doesn’t tell us much.

For a look at the music, we head to the two-minute, 48-second Despicable Beats. It offers quite thoughts from Meledandri, Renaud, and composers Pharrell Williams and Heitor Pereira. It throws out quick thoughts about the score and songs, but it’s way too short to deliver much.

A play activity arrives with Gru’s Rocket Builder. It requires you to match landmarks to acquire rocket parts; do so and you win. It remains a minor diversion at best.

Under A Global Effort, we learn a bit about the production. It goes for three minutes, 23 seconds and features Renaud, Coffin, Healy, Andrews, Meledandri, Cheney, Segel, actors Will Arnett and Jack McBrayer, and animation assistant production manager Joy Poirel. “Effort” looks at the international nature of the production and tells us about how that worked. It gives us a smattering of useful bits, but as with some of its siblings, it’s too brief.

Under Game Previews, we discover two ads. These promote Despicable Me: The Game and Despicable Me: Minion Mania App. The disc opens with ads for Hop, Nanny McPhee Returns, the Back to the Future trilogy and The Little Engine That Could. No trailer for the Despicable Me film appears.

While I don’t view Despicable Me as a bad film, it definitely represents a disappointment. On the surface, the movie seems like it should be a witty adventure, but instead, it ends up as a vaguely dull effort with only occasional laughs. The DVD offers very good picture and audio along with a generally nice set of supplements. This is a reasonably enjoyable movie but not a memorable one.

To rate this film please visit the [Blu-Ray] review of DESPICABLE ME

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