Despicable Me was touted as Universal’s answer to Pixar’s steady stream of successful, adorable, and quirky animated films including Up, Ratatouille, and The Incredibles. While the style of Despicable Me may resemble that of Pixar, and the characters are of the same eccentric variety, Despicable Me offers a new and interesting story for children and adults with a villain whose sole desire in life is to make others as miserable as he is. The main character, Gru (Steve Carell) is an established villain who faces competition from an up-and-coming villain named Vector (Jason Segal). When it becomes clear that Gru might be losing his status as the world’s greatest villain to Vector, he decides to hatch an impossible plan to steal the moon and regain the respect he has lost. Gru adopts three orphan girls and tries to use them as part of the plan to break into Vector’s house, steal a shrink ray, and take said moon. In the process, Gru must decide which is more important: preserving his reputation, or acting as a parent to the girls he has adopted to assist in executing his plan.
The film presents the familiar trope of being true to oneself and overcoming obstacles in a different way, as the inherently unlikeable Gru struggles between doing what he loves and sacrificing it for his new family. While the movie is not as charming as its Pixar counterparts have been, it has a sweet message of self-acceptance and love, and proves that Disney’s animation powerhouse isn’t necessarily beyond competition.