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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Cast:
Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher
Writing Credits:
Ken Daurio, Sergio Pablos (story), Cinco Paul

Tagline:
Superbad. Superdad.

Synopsis:
Vying for the title of “World’s Greatest Villain”, Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) – along with his hilarious crew of mischievous minions – plots to pull off the craziest crime of the century: steal the moon! But when Gru enlists the help of three little girls, they see something in him nobody else has ever seen: the perfect dad. From executive producer Chris Meledandri (Horton Hears a Who, Ice Age), and featuring the voices of an all-star comedic cast, including Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Miranda Cosgrove and Julie Andrews, Despicable Me is “rousingly funny, heartfelt and imaginative” (Pete Hammond, Boxoffice Magazine).

Box Office:
Budget
$69 million.
Opening Weekend
$56.397 million on 3476 screens.
Domestic Gross
$250.252 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 12/14/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin Featuring the Minions
• “Gru Control” Picture-in-Picture Feature
• Three New Mini-Movies
• “The Voices of Despicable Me” Featurette
• “The World of Despicable Me” Featurette
• "Despicable Beats” Featurette
• “Super Silly Fun Land” Games
• “Gru’s Rocket Builder” Activity
• “Miss Hattie’s Top Secret Cookie Recipes”
• “A Global Effort” Featurette
• Game Previews
• DVD Copy
• Digital Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Despicable Me [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 28, 2010)

In 2010’s Despicable Me, we’re asked to root for the bad guy. The computer-animated flick introduces us to Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), a nefarious genius who wants to claim the title of “World’s Greatest Villain”. Along with his horde of Minions, he comes up with a variety of plots to achieve this goal.

Gru’s big plan? He wants to steal the Moon! But he runs into challenges, most of which stem from a new rival: nerdy but heavily-funded Vector (Jason Segel). Gru finds himself constantly lagging behind his new foe’s achievements.

Another unexpected complication occurs when Gru meets three orphan girls named Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher). He first encounters them when they attempt to sell him some products to satisfy Miss Hattie (Kristen Wiig), their demanding guardian. Gru initially rebuffs the girls, but he takes them in when he realizes they could help him defeat Vector. Along the way, Gru finds himself increasingly attached to the kids.

Usually when I dislike a movie, I can easily relate the reasons for my disaffection. Other flicks make it more difficult because they lack any obvious flaws. On the surface, they seem like they should work, but they just don’t.

Despicable Me falls into this category, unfortunately. When I saw the flick theatrically, I looked forward to it. I love animation, and the movie’s trailers promised a glib, clever skewering of the usual comedic action-adventure. Basically, it seemed like it could be a Bond picture that focused on Blofeld.

While the flick does occasionally deliver laughs, an awful lot of it falls flat. Little about it truly engages. Much of the material strikes me as though it should be funny, but something’s missing. Though the results kept me reasonably entertained, I usually found myself just a wee bit on the bored side.

And for the life of me, I can’t say why. Even the Minions – the film’s breakout characters – don’t do a whole lot for me. They feel like they should be wacky and original, but instead, they’re just kind of… meh.

Like the rest of the movie. I can’t fault the actors, as they do their best, but they also don’t manage to present any genuinely memorable bits. In addition to the performers I listed, we get folks like Julie Andrews, Russell Brand, Will Arnett and quite a few other notables. They should deliver fun turns – so why do I feel so vaguely disenchanted?

I certainly like the film’s premise, and we’ve seen proof that the “root for the bad guy” idea works: fall 2010’s Megamind provides a much more successful exploration of that theme. Despicable Me lacks the same cleverness and zing. It never becomes a bad movie, but it feels like a disappointing mediocrity.

Footnote: if you hang out through the end credits, you’ll find some additional silliness from the Minions. These gags will be more fun if you’re watching the 3D Blu-ray, though; they were clearly meant for that version of the flick. (The hijinks end by 1:30:45, so you don’t need to hold on longer than that.)


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

Despicable Me appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. While not the greatest animated transfer I’ve seen, the image appeared solid.

Only a wee smidgen of softness occurred. A few wide shots were a tad iffy, but those were minor complaints. The vast majority of the flick seemed tight and well-defined. No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and I saw no signs of edge haloes or DNR. Source flaws remained totally absent as well.

Colors became a highlight. The movie enjoyed a broad palette, with a lot of purple at the core. A wide variety of other tones appeared as well, and all of them looked rich and dynamic. Blacks were dark and deep, and I thought shadows seemed smooth and clear. I felt consistently pleased with the transfer.

Though also not killer, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked well. My only complaint connected to some of the action scenes, as they didn’t always boast the expected level of activity. For instance, when Gru chased Vector in their flying machines, the track seemed surprisingly restrained; the vehicles zipped around a bit but failed to take great advantage of the possibilities.

Still, much of the movie demonstrated good range and activity. The forward channels did the most damage, as they showed nice movement and integration. The surrounds offered a reasonably solid level of involvement as well, with only the occasional exceptions like the aforementioned air chase to relatively disappoint.

Audio quality excelled. Speech was consistently natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music appeared bubbly and bright, while effects showed good power. Those elements offered positive accuracy and heft throughout the movie. Nothing here dazzled, but the track usually suited the film.

Quite a few extras accompany the film. First we find an audio commentary from directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin; the Minions also occasionally show up to interrupt. The commentary covers cast and performances, animation and effects topics, character, prop and set design, audio and music, and story areas.

Many commentaries for animated films can veer toward dry technical material, but this one’s much peppier than that. Renaud dominates and gives the piece a good energy level. We also learn a ton about story/character topics, which means we hear of changes made and alternate ideas. We still get good animation details as well, and the additional of the Minions adds a bit of comedy; they show up enough to amuse but not enough to annoy. This turns into a consistently strong commentary.

Many Universal Blu-rays offer picture-in-picture bonuses called “U-Control”. Here they retitle it as Gru-Control. While the “U-Control” options usually present interviews and other filmmaking bits, “Gru-Control” focuses on comedy. Sure, we get a few comments from producer Chris Meledandri and actors Steve Carell and Russell Brand, but those are rare.

Instead, we mostly see wacky footage of the movie characters, with an inevitable emphasis on the Minions; Vector also shows up a lot, and we see some of Gru and the kids, too. They interact with the movie and each other. This is a cute feature but not a particularly good one, mainly because you can’t really watch and enjoy the movie with “Gru-Control” activated; it’s just too intrusive.

On the other hand, the “Gru-Control” bits don’t show up often enough to create an alternate experience for you to enjoy. Since it makes it tough to either watch the flick itself or to get into on its own, the compromise doesn’t satisfy. “Gru-Control” has some moments of fun but is too inconsistent to really succeed.

Three new Mini-Movies appear. These include “Home Makeover” (4:22), “Orientation Day” (4:00) and “Banana” (3:45). Each of these offers animated shorts that focus on the adventures of the Minions. The orphan girls pop up for “Makeover” but otherwise it’s all Minions. The shorts are cute and reasonably amusing.

Two featurettes follow. The Voices of Despicable Me goes for 16 minutes, 34 seconds and offers info from Coffin, Renaud, producers Janet Healy, Chris Meledandri and John Cohen, screenwriter Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul, and actors Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Jack McBrayer, and Russell Brand. “Voices” looks at cast, characters and performances. A lot of this involves gushing praise for the actors, but it’s fun to see them work, and some decent notes emerge along the way.

During The World of Despicable Me, we get a 15-minute, 16-second show. It features Carell, Cosgrove, Coffin, Renaud, Daurio, Paul, Meledandri, Segel, Healy, Brand, Andrews, and production designer Yarrow Cheney. “World” examines characters and story elements, set and gadget design, and other movie thoughts. While not unenjoyable, “World” exists as a general promotional featurette. This means it lacks much depth, so although it’s peppy and moderately engaging, it doesn’t tell us much.

For a look at the music, we head to the two-minute, 48-second Despicable Beats. It offers quite thoughts from Meledandri, Renaud, and composers Pharrell Williams and Heitor Pereira. It throws out quick thoughts about the score and songs, but it’s way too short to deliver much.

Within Super Silly Fun Land, we get three mini-games: “Feed the Creatures”, “Tin Can Alley” and “Freeze the Minions”. All are simple simulations of carnival games; none of them offer much real fun.

Another play activity arrives with Gru’s Rocket Builder. It requires you to match landmarks to acquire rocket parts; do so and you win. It’s more entertaining – and educational - than “Super Silly Fun Land”, but it remains a minor diversion at best.

Next we find Miss Hattie’s Top Secret Cookie Recipes. This teaches you how to make five of the cookie types mentioned in the film. I’ll never try out any of these recipes, but I’m sure they’re tasty.

Under A Global Effort, we learn a bit about the production. It goes for three minutes, 23 seconds and features Renaud, Coffin, Healy, Andrews, Meledandri, Cheney, McBrayer, Arnett, Segel, and animation assistant production manager Joy Poirel. “Effort” looks at the international nature of the production and tells us about how that worked. It gives us a smattering of useful bits, but as with some of its siblings, it’s too brief.

Under Game Previews, we discover two ads. These promote Despicable Me: The Game and Despicable Me: Minion Mania App. No trailer for the Despicable Me film appears.

Two additional discs round out the package. One offers a digital copy while the other provides a DVD copy. These may add value – or may not. You decide!

While I don’t view Despicable Me as a bad film, it definitely represents a disappointment. On the surface, the movie seems like it should be a witty adventure, but instead, it ends up as a vaguely dull effort with only occasional laughs. The Blu-ray offers very good picture and audio along with an inconsistent but often interesting collection of supplements. Though it provides moderate entertainment value, I find it tough to recommend Despicable Me; there are just too many more delightful animated adventures on the market.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main