I am genuinely pleased and surprised that "Despicable Me" is an above-average animated comedy. Pleased because I feel like parents get punished so often walking into the theater for this kind of a film that when they aren't punished, it is a rare delight. And surprised because Illumination Entertainment is a start-up, a first time animation studio, and getting a movie this right is something that some companies never pull off, let alone the first time they try.
"Despicable Me" is the story of Gru (Steve Carell, using one of the weirdest Eurotrash accents possible), a supervillain who isn't really very good at his job. He's a minor key nuisance at best, and he's finding it increasingly difficult to get the Bank Of Evil to underwrite his efforts. When a new supervillain named Vector (Jason Segel) shows up and starts pulling off the sort of jobs that Gru wishes he could do, Gru realizes that he needs to do something amazing to secure his place in the hierarchy of evil. He launches his biggest plan yet with the help of Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) and his army of Minions, weird little yellow creatures who provide many of the film's biggest laughs, and in the process, sets off a battle of the bad guys with Vector.
This would be plenty to keep Gru busy, but he faces another challenge at the same time, and it's far more difficult. Looking for an easy way into Vector's house, he temporarily adopts three orphan girls named Margo ("iCarly" star Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher), hoping to use them and their cookie sales as a distraction. Gru doesn't expect to feel anything towards the girls, and why would he? His own mother (voiced with evident relish by Julie Andrews) was an unfeeling monster, and Gru has no desire to be a father, no inclination to nurture. What we plan and what we accomplish in life are often different things, though, and "Despicable Me" illustrates that with charm and wit to spare.