When a dastardly villain meets three oh-so-adorable orphan girls in Universal's Despicable Me, something's gotta give.
Steve Carell of The Office voices Gru, an ambitious but unsuccessful evil mastermind. He's stolen the Eiffel Tower . . . from Las Vegas . . . and the Times Square Jumbotron. However, to really earn his notation in the annals of evildom, he sets his eyes on a bigger prize. Gru, with the help of an elderly mad scientist (Russell Brand) and hordes of cute, clumsy minions, will steal the moon.
His rival evildoer, a sleek, slick villain named Vector (Jason Segel), creator of the nefarious Squid Gun, has an all-important shrink ray and Gru must steal it back for his moon larceny. Gru, decidedly old-school, finds Vector always one step ahead in his IKEA-like minimalist castle.
Vector, however, has a weakness. Coco-nutty cookies, sold by three adorable orphan girls. For Gru, adopting them is the easy part. Controlling them is harder.
This movie (rated PG for mildly rude humor and mild action) is silly from start to finish and harkens back to the golden age of Loony Toons cartoons in its mania and complete disregard for physics. From the moment Gru survives a direct hit from a battery of heat-seeking missiles to the moment he slips the moon into his pocket, the viewer knows he's in a world of wacky mayhem.
Despicable Me is one of the best 3D movies in recent years, with action landing practically in the audience's laps. One scene takes the audience on a roller-coaster ride that's almost as much fun as the real thing.
Underneath the fun, there's a good deal of heart, with some sweet moments as Gru and the girls find their home in each other. While it doesn't have the transcendent moments of the beautiful Toy Story 3, Despicable Me bows with a sweet nod to family life and the happiness found in balancing dance recitals with workplace ambition, even if the workplace is a villain's lair.
(Editor's Note: This article has been edtited to reflect that the main character in the movie is named Gru.)