Incompetent super-villain Gru (Steve Carell) hatches a plan to steal the Moon, in order to prove his criminal mastermind credentials to his evil peers and disparaging mother.
Although it uses ideas familiar from Pixar’s The Incredibles and Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, this 2010 animation from Illumination Entertainment is a joyful, charming ride. And there is actually a ride at Universal Studios.
The talented voice cast includes Jack McBrayer, Julie Andrews and Will Arnett – but the breakout stars are of course the now ubiquitous Minions, who appear to be descended from the little green aliens in Toy Story.
The silly slapstick sequences and high gag rate keep the story moving, as Gru’s plan involves adopting three little ballet-dancing, cookie-selling orphans – the youngest of whom (Elsie Fisher) is an adorable Boo-from-Monsters-Inc. lookalike.
In reality they don’t just let anybody adopt children without checking their home for things like weapons, but this is a film whose plot revolves around shrinking and stealing the Moon so reality is irrelevant.
What Despicable Me lacks in originality, it more than makes up in all-round cuteness and Girl Scout cookie humour to rival that episode of Friends where Ross broke a girl’s leg or that episode of real life where an ingenious child sold cookies outside a medical marijuana dispensary. There’s your mastermind.