Wanderers, I know some of you to be denizens of Tumblr. Those of you who aren’t may perhaps have missed out on the outbreak of small, yellow creatures wearing goggles that has swept the internet in the few years since Despicable Me hit cinemas. If you have seen them, you might be forgiven for thinking that they were throwaway comic relief characters, similar to the little green alien toys in Toy Story. Oh, dear Wanderers, prepare to be corrected.
Despicable Me is an interesting film on a great many levels. Not only is it a computer animation not from Dreamworks or Pixar, but rather from Illumination Entertainment and Universal Studios. Not only does it feature a supervillain as its protagonist. Not only does it feature big names like Julie Andrews, Steve Carrell, Russell Brand and Jason Segel. Not only does it throw in a trio of adorable orphans and those weird little minion creatures that seem to be made out of a combination of play-dough and glowsticks. Not- [Alright, get to the point. -Ed] …It also challenges our perceptions of what it is to be a supervillain and whether our protagonist is truly bad.
Our protagonist, Gru (Carrell), has a diabolical scheme on his mind. He is going to steal the Moon. A fairly standard ambition for a Saturday, you might think, but stealing the Moon never goes quite according to plan and this is no exception. Between his mad scientist ally, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), going a bit deaf, the Bank of Evil turning down his loan application, and a new arch-nemesis stealing the shrink ray he needs to change their minds, it’s shaping up to be a major headache for Gru. And then he spots three girls selling cookies door-to-door, and realises he has his way in.
The problem with his brilliant plan to adopt orphans Margo, Edith and Agnes, however, is that the girls have their own agenda; they want a family, and they want to be loved. Oh, and Agnes wants a unicorn, but that’s beside the point. At any rate, the two plans are at cross-purposes, and it’s time for Gru to decide what’s more important; stealing the moon or letting three little girls steal his heart.
Going back to what I said earlier – Gru’s not actually a bad person, if you look at his working relationship with his minions. They’re a strange bunch, and there are hundreds of them, but he knows all their names and exactly which of them is best suited to each task. For all that he’s cavalier about their well-being when it comes to testing his new gadgets, he’s clearly one of the guys as well as the boss, and the minions are well catered for with a rec room and, it seems, decent pay. Again, through Gru, we get to really think about the two sides of supervillainy – on the one hand, stealing is definitely a bad thing, but on the other, he’s got some admirable working conditions going on there. To his minions, he’s not evil at all. He’s a great boss! And he does his best for them. So there’s the grown-up thinky bit in our GUST this issue.
The main thing that’s going to make you want to watch this film, though, is that it’s really, really funny. Don’t get me wrong, it’s also sweet and touching and generally excellent, but the selling point is definitely the humour. I’m writing this immediately after watching it and my sides still hurt. So if you’re looking for a good giggle, I can’t recommend Despicable Me enough.
And now there’s a sequel. Let the laughter continue…
Eleanor Musgrove (may possibly be too invested in the working conditions of the minions)