Directed by Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin
An American/French co-production, this latest 3-D feature about a villain who gradually finds his humanity is darker than most of its animated competition, but not quite as dark as it could have been—undoubtedly to draw in the under-10 crowd.
The "Me" of the title is Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), who aspires to be the world's greatest villain but is thwarted by the younger, hipper Vector (Jason Segel), a tech-savvy rich kid with a knack for not-quite-practical inventions, like a gun that shoots piranhas. Along the way, Gru "adopts" a trio of little girls, in an attempt to outsmart Vector and steal the moon, leading to some unexpected results (well, unexpected for him, anyway).
While the film contains elements of everything from The Incredibles to Annie, its biggest selling point, besides its fairly witty script, is its look—sort of Pixar-meets-Charles-Addams (the filmmakers have cited Addams and Edward Gorey as inspirations, and Gru does look a bit like Uncle Fester). Beside the imaginative design—Gru's tanklike car, his underground lair populated by those jabbering, yellow, capsule-shaped "minions," who are now all over TV—there's the added surprise of well-known actors playing against type. Steve Carell creates his own odd accent as the voice of Gru, an almost unrecognizable Julie Andrews is his disapproving mother, and Russell Brand takes a break from playing debauched rockers to voice the doddering old mad scientist Dr. Nefario. Despite the misguided and occasionally intrusive score by The Neptunes' Pharrell Williams, this is a valiant attempt to do something different in the world of Pixar/DreamWorks/Disney, and unlike in some of those recent efforts, there are actually some great uses of 3-D, especially during the closing credits.