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Steve Carell
Kristen Wiig
Jason Segel
Will Arnett
Julie Andrews
Russell Brand
Danny McBride
Miranda Cosgrove.
Pierre Coffin
Chris Renaud.
Ken Daurio.
Running Time
95 minutes

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Despicable Me
Three kids and a little Blofeld...

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Super-villain Gru (Carell) needs to steal a shrink-ray from rival Vector (Segel), to secure a loan from the Bank Of Evil. He adopts three cookie-selling orphans to smuggle shrink-ray-stealing mini robots into Vector's lair. But the responsibilities of parenthood cause him to question his evil priorities.

Despicable Me
Gru (Steve Carell) rotagonist of this good-natured 3D CGI ’toon, is a master-villain out to steal the moon. Though slimmer and beakier, he’s close to Grimly Feendish, a Brit comic great (“The Rottenist Crook In The World”) created by Leo Baxendale in 1964. Like Grimly, he is bald, has a long black coat and stary eyes, rubs his hands in malevolent glee, is more ambitious than ept, relies on minions who let him down, and enjoys petty wickedness as much as grand Blofeldian schemes.

Grimly and Gru resemble Charles Addams’ Uncle Fester and are parodies of pre-Crisis Lex Luthor — when Superman’s arch-enemy was a pudgy scientist, not a crooked tycoon (if you get this, you pass through the Gate Of Geek Wisdom to join the Hallowed Masters Of Comics Trivia, aka Empire Online). Even unranked US comic characters get big-budget films — seriously, Jonah Hex and the Green Hornet, ha! — yet Brit comic meisterwerke don’t get a look-in (bar St. Trinian’s). But if we can’t have a big-budget Grimly Feendish, Despicable Me is more than sufficient. It’s, you know, for kids… but grown-ups will find they won’t experience the drill-through-the-skull effect caused by Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel or Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back.

Though it covers the evil side of things rather than super-heroics, it also descends from The Incredibles. Oddly, Gru’s world — which includes a mad Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), his uncaring mother (Julie Andrews!) and cloned yellow, nuggety minions (Toy Story aliens meet Fantastic Four’s Moloids, with a mass persona) — is unguarded by heroes, so his rival is a villain, Vector (Jason Segel), with an unethical inside track to the Bank Of Evil. The film keeps up the inventive sight gags, often using 3D to amp them up, but finally gets emotional when Gru takes three orphans — sceptical Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), enthusiastic Edith (Dana Gaier) and unicorn-loving Agnes (Elsie Fisher) — into his lair as part of his Grand Evil Plan.

In a story which almost writes itself, Gru is terse and manipulative but warms to the girls and is soon torn between his moon-stealing and their ballet recital. Cinema used to bungle cute orphans, but this trio are truly appealing. The process of Gru becoming a parent allows for hilarity and surprising poignancy. Naturally, there’s a trip into space and a spectacular near disaster, but it’s the heart which makes Despicable Me effective.

It's no first-rank CGI cartoon, but shows how Pixar's quality over crass is inspiring the mid-list. Fun, with teary bits, for kids; fresh and smart for adults.

Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Despicable Me
Empire Star Rating

RE: Only three stars - really?

Despicable Me is a really good animation, not a great one, but it has charecter's, plot, twist's, and laughs for anyone, everyone, writing, humor, a classic! And you give 3 stars? What's wrong with you Newman, are you out of your mind. At least 4 stars, 4! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Darren47 at 20:46, 11 October 2013 | Report This Post

Only three stars - really ?

Much more enjoyable and far funnier than most of Pixar's recent offerings, the minions in particular are hilarious. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Uncle_Ethan at 18:59, 14 September 2013 | Report This Post

Despicable Me Review

Despicable Me is a surprisingly thoughtful, family-friendly treat with a few surprises of its own. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 18:36, 14 April 2012 | Report This Post

Completly unrubbish animated entertaiment

Quite enjoyed this as being not a kids only film. Sure its no Pixar but it doesnt attempt to be, so any comparison to the kings of Animated family films is a little unwelcome. This is such good fun that you can ignore its ultimate plot predictability. Its concept is extremely refreshing in fact. Satisfaction guaranteered - 4 stars ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trainedasninja at 22:06, 18 July 2011 | Report This Post

Good anti-hero movie!

What we have here is a good anti-hero movie, that will appeal to adults and kids alike. Great B-movie villain plot with a nice spin off approach to the spate of super hero movies that are in fashion. Loved the Gru character and the minions. Nice one pixar! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tothemax100 at 00:51, 03 December 2010 | Report This Post

Average. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by reminn at 22:35, 30 November 2010 | Report This Post


If it isn't Pixar you aren't interested! This film was very funny and cute and FLUFFY!!! (like the unicorns) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bubba76 at 18:32, 03 November 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Despicable

Loved it loved it LOVED IT!!! The minions are hysterically funny and the whole film is just so well drawn, written, voiced and put together. Why aren`t the critics giving it the top votes it deserves? 5/5 for me. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cruisecontroller at 01:34, 24 October 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Despicable Fee

L: rgod Once again I find my self in a Cinema with with Three couples and myself . No wonder why they Have to charge Extra for 3D tickets. Don' t get me wrong I love the fact that I get to Pick my Favourite Seat in the theatre which I will not Divulge because knowing my luck If there are 4 people there next week it will be taken . I get to stretch my legs on the arm rests of seats from the tier below ... More

Posted by Dr Lenera at 00:32, 24 October 2010 | Report This Post


Universal’s first entry in the crowded market of CG animated films s to succeed in almost every way.  It’s charming without being corny, hilarious without relying on pop-culture references oth original and cliched same time.  With one section actually having the Moon being stolen, there’s a real madcap sense of inventiveness in this movie, from the various things the children encounter in Gru’s house to the different ways his minions seem to be unintentionally dispatched just a shade... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 00:31, 24 October 2010 | Report This Post

Some movies like to glorify their more heroic characters. These characters may have personality flaws in some way, but the audience are expected to aspire to be like that character, and cheer when that character does the right thing and saves the day at the end. However, some audiences are drawn more to the villains of the story, those characters that do things the audience wishes to do and get away with, and who are more often than not more compelling and interesting than the hero. The best cha... More

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Posted by McGeesJabberwock at 17:36, 22 October 2010 | Report This Post

Despicable Fee

Once again I find my self in a Cinema with with Three couples and myself . No wonder why they Have to charge Extra for 3D tickets. Don' t get me wrong I love the fact that I get to Pick my Favourite Seat in the theatre which I will not Divulge because knowing my luck If there are 4 people there next week it will be taken . I get to stretch my legs on the arm rests of seats from the tier below me . (Ha I a... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rgod at 16:27, 21 October 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Good flik

Seen this yesterday-and it is bloody fantastic!!! Carrell's strange voice and the character are a perfect fit-he's never acted as well as he's voiced here! Ditto Brand!! Adorable characters,some very funny lines for adults and kids,a very simple plotline/moral message. Sheer quality,i would urge anyone with small kids,or with an inner small kid,to see this! I can pay it no bigger compliment than say when we get the dvd i'll watch it again. Funny,sad and joyous. 4 stars a minimum!!... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 01:02, 19 October 2010 | Report This Post

Good flik

Wholeheartedly agree with the other posts here. A definite 4 star effort. Steve Carell does a flawless job of making Gru evil and yet allowing us to warm to him from the outset. And who'd have thought that Russell Brand could do an aged mad scientist (a comic treat throughout). Top casting. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ashkimber at 13:33, 18 October 2010 | Report This Post

3 stars is way too harsh, clearly one of this year's best animated films. Gru's character arc is brilliant, and the story's actually pretty unpredictable. 8/10 ... More

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Posted by Paul2j at 20:07, 17 October 2010 | Report This Post

A cut above the rest

I'm really surprised by 3 stars. I think you're doing the film a great injustice. I absolutely LOVE Pixar and the biggest compliment I can give this is that this is the type of film that will keep Pixar on their toes....which has to be good for us all. Very well done. Has an Incredibles feel at times, and has the range of emotions you'd expect from Pixar too. Loved it !!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The kUrGaN at 10:40, 17 October 2010 | Report This Post

Terrible Review

You had virtually no negative feedback and just three stars? Is this really only 1 star better than bloody Alpha and Omega?! I loved it, and would consider it to be one of the most consistently funny CGI cartoons outside of the Toy Story canon. Look up Rotten Tomatoes, I'm not alone in saying that... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by spartacus533 at 14:01, 16 October 2010 | Report This Post

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