It would seem Pixar and DreamWorks finally have a worthy third competitor in Illumination Entertainment, producers of the new animated romp Despicable Me. While Steve Carell's evil sourpuss Gru may not be the new Woody, Buzz or Shrek, he's a lot of fun to watch and once he collides with the three little orphans he intends to use for a heist, the film admirably demonstrates that it has a lot of heart.
Th film's central conceit is simple- Gru is the world's greatest villain, but he's got competition when Vector (Jason Segel), a young, nerdy criminal upstart steals the Great Pyramid and knocks Gru down to Second Greatest Villain in the World. Determined not to be outdone, Gru sets his sights on something to put him over the top. As he says to his minions, "We are going to steal... The Moon!"
But it's cool, Gru has a plan which involves a shrink ray and three orphaned girls. Everything is going according to plan until, yep, you guessed it, the three little girls, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elise Fisher) melt his frozen little heart. Unfortunately, it takes the movie about an hour to get to that point.
The first hour of Despicable Me is stuck in the more classic cartoon realm, where there's a lot of stuff happening, but not a lot of substance to it. Even until about 20 minutes in, the plot has not advanced much, as Gru is too concerned about penetrating Vector's defenses and freezing the schlubs waiting in front of him at Starbucks Coffee.
But once Gru decides to steal the moon and employs his cute yellow minions and near-deaf weapons expert Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), who manages to bungle pretty much every device he builds (instead of a "dart" gun, he designs a "fart" gun, etc), the film picks up the pace, and when the cute little orphans enter the picture, Gru really gets taken for a ride.
Despite the slow start, the last half of Despicable Me is anything but despicable, wrapping things up in a predictable, yet highly enjoyable way that, combined with a cute joke about the whole 3-D craze, will have you walking out of the theater with a smile on your face.