There's nothing deplorable about "Despicable Me." And it will be most delightful to children. Being released in 3-D for box office reasons rather than aesthetic necessity, the silly/sweet cartoon satire follows a cranky henchman who finds his heart of gold when he starts to nurture three little girls.
The setup is a little like "Full House" ... that is, if John Stamos, aka Uncle Jesse, was a bald megalomaniac with a dastardly plot to blackmail the world by miniaturizing and then stealing the moon. Here, the father figure-to-be is named Gru (voiced by Steve Carell). He's a cross between Uncle Fester from the Addams Family and a James Bond villain with a vaguely Eastern European accent and mommy issues (as voiced, unrecognizably, by Julie Andrews).
He is vying for status against an up-and-coming young evildoer called Vector (Jason Segel) who has recently stolen an Egyptian pyramid and is usurping the elder's international infamy. Using the skills of in-house mad scientist Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) and a large throng of goofy/twerpy, robotlike laborers that are his minions, Gru hopes to outdo the rival with his elaborate moon plan. But after some bureaucratic nepotism by way of supervillain loan officer Mr. Perkins (Will Arnett) -- formerly from a little firm called Lehman Brothers, in one the movie's few hip references aimed directly at grown-ups -- the shrink-ray gun ends up in Vector's clutches.
Gru devises a scheme to adopt three waifs, after sweet-talking their harsh orphanage matron Miss Hattie (Kristen Wiig). He will use the adorable door-to-door cookie sellers to sneak him into Vector's lair to get back the ray gun.
But something happens that Gru and his underlings didn't prepare for: They fall in love with the charming children Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher). Priorities change. Schmaltz runs thick.
If you go 'Despicable Me' 3 out of 5 Stars Vocal Stars: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand Directors: Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin Rated PG for rude humor and mild action Running Time: 95 minutes
As directed by Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin from a screenplay by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio and original story by Sergio Pablos, the French-produced trifle boasts colorful animation, cute characters and a lively soundtrack. Junior audiences in particular will go nuts for the warm and romping little girl trio; they could melt chocolate in a blizzard. The other standouts are the mini "minions," curiously idiosyncratic creatures that beg for their own movie treatment. It's a "Me" that never meets Pixar's artistry and depth, but prevails in the upper tier for families in a second-rate summer.