Comic actor Steve Carell manages to do a consistent middle-European accent as the master criminal, Gru, who lives in the kind of world where super-villains evidently exist chiefly to one-up one another by perpetrating the most outrageous crimes (such as stealing the Great Pyramid) and get financing through the “Bank of Evil (formerly Lehman Brothers)”, and in the mean time jumping the line at Starbucks by use of an ice-beam freeze ray and tooling around town in an armored vehicle I can only describe as a “battle jitney” (cf. “Mystery Men”).
Gru is a mastermind rather than an evil scientist per se, and relies for his gadgets on the rather deaf Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) and a horde of evidently vat-grown Minions who work out of the subterranean lair beneath his rather sinister house. However, his methods are a bit old-fashioned compared with the new villain in town, “Vector” (Jason Segel) who looks a lot like a young Bill Gates and has a much slicker high-tech style. Their rivalry initially plays out in a fashion familiar to fans of Wile E. Coyote, until Gru observes that Vector is addicted to cookies sold by three little orphan girls (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, and Elsie Fisher). In order to make the girls part of his plans, Gru has to adopt them from the orphanage run by Miss Hannigan—er, Hattie (Kristen Wiig), and at least pretend to be making a family life until he can succeed in his great scheme.
It turns out, however, that Gru has a sentimental streak, long buried due to the emotional abuse of his evil harridan of a mother (Julie Andrews!), and the girls eventually burrow into it. The plot tension playing out is a lot of fun, with good gadgets, some twists and some actual suspense. The plot has considerable violence of the cartoon type, but is cute and funny enough for children with a lot of in-jokes for the adults. Much better than reviewed, and, due to the fact that it is still playing at the first run movie houses, evidently others think so, too.
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