Despicable Me (film)

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Despicable Me
Gru standing with his girls and his Minions
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Screenplay by
Story bySergio Pablos
Produced by
Starring
Edited by
  • Pamela Ziegenhagen-Shefland
  • Gregory Perler
Music by
Production
companies
Distributed byUniversal Pictures[1]
Release dates
  • June 19, 2010 (2010-06-19) (MIFF)
  • July 9, 2010 (2010-07-09) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States[3][1]
LanguageEnglish
Budget$69 million[4]
Box office$543.2 million[4]

Despicable Me is a 2010 American computer-animated comedy film produced by Illumination Entertainment (as its debut film) and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film was directed by Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin (in their feature directorial debuts) and produced by Chris Meledandri, Janet Healy, and John Cohen, from a screenplay written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, based on an original story by Sergio Pablos. The film stars the voices of Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Miranda Cosgrove, Kristen Wiig, Will Arnett, and Julie Andrews. The film follows a supervillain named Gru as he formulates a plan to steal the Moon, while adopting three orphan girls.

Despicable Me debuted at the Moscow International Film Festival on June 19, 2010, and was theatrically released in the United States on July 9, by Universal Pictures. The film received positive reviews and earned $543.2 million worldwide, becoming the ninth-highest-grossing film of 2010. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the Golden Globe Awards, BAFTA Awards and Annie Awards. Despicable Me is the first entry in what would become the franchise of the same name, which includes five more films—Despicable Me 2 (2013), Minions (2015), Despicable Me 3 (2017), Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022), and Despicable Me 4 (2024).

Plot[edit]

Longtime supervillain Gru is outdone by an unknown rival who stole the Great Pyramid of Giza. Gru, his elderly assistant Dr. Nefario, and his army of Minions formulate a plan to steal the Earth's Moon. Dr. Nefario worries that the plan will be too expensive, so Gru applies for a loan from Mr. Perkins, the director of the "Bank of Evil", who orders Gru to steal a shrink ray first. While at the bank, Gru meets Perkins's son, Vector, a budding supervillain who was responsible for the Pyramid heist. Gru and two of his Minions steal the shrink ray from a research base, only for Vector to intercept them and obtain it for himself.

After a series of failed attempts to steal back the shrink ray from Vector's fortress, Gru notices three orphan girls, Margo, Edith, and Agnes, being allowed into the fortress to sell cookies for Vector. Gru disguises himself as a dentist and adopts the girls; he later uses them to distract Vector long enough for him to steal back the shrink ray. Gru starts bonding with the girls after intending to abandon them at an amusement park. He later shows Mr. Perkins the shrink ray via video call just as the girls interrupt it, causing Mr. Perkins to refuse the loan. A heartbroken Gru tells the Minions that the bank ceased funding the project. The girls give him their piggy bank, and the Minions pool all of their resources to raise the funds needed for the project. Mr. Perkins informs Vector of Gru's possession of the shrink ray, prompting Vector to take action by kidnapping the girls.

Dr. Nefario calculates the day when the Moon is closest to Earth, but it is the same day as the girls' ballet recital. Believing the girls are becoming too much of a distraction to Gru, Dr. Nefario calls the orphanage's owner Miss Hattie to take the girls back. Gru successfully shrinks and steals the Moon. In hopes to make it to the recital on time, Gru rushes back to Earth, but finds that the recital has already ended and learns of Vector's plot.

Arriving at Vector's fortress, Gru surrenders the Moon to Vector, but he refuses to hand back the girls. Gru determines to exact vengeance on Vector for their abduction by storming the fortress. In panic, Vector activates his escape aircraft. Meanwhile, Dr. Nefario and the Minions discover that the shrink ray's effects are temporary: the bigger an object, the faster it reverts to its regular size. Gru, Dr. Nefario, and the Minions rescue the girls before the Moon returns to its normal size and launches itself into orbit, with Vector stranded on it. Gru reclaims custody of the girls and they celebrate with a special ballet recital that becomes a dance party.

Cast[edit]

Additionally, Dana Gaier voices Edith and Elsie Fisher voices Agnes. Chris Renaud voices Dave the Minion, Jemaine Clement voices Jerry the Minion, and Pierre Coffin voices most of the other Minions.

Other voices include Mindy Kaling as a tourist mom, Rob Huebel as an anchorman, Ken Daurio as an Egyptian guard, and Ken Jeong as a talk-show host.

Production[edit]

Development and writing[edit]

Despicable Me was initially developed by Sergio Pablos under the working title Evil Me. He later participated in development during the early stages of the production and took the package unsolicited to Universal Pictures, where he became the first of several screenwriters on the project as well as executive producer.[5]

Producer Chris Meledandri left 20th Century Fox Animation as president in early 2007 to establish his own animation studio under Universal Pictures, which he named Illumination Entertainment.[6] After buying the pitch from Pablos, Meledandri brought in screenwriters Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, with whom he worked on Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who (2008) while at Fox, to write the project.[7] Soon after he brought together animators Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud to direct, with the Paris-based studio Mac Guff to handle animation.[8] Coffin, who comes from Mac Guff, was recruited for his experience directing commercials for the studio, while Renaud was brought in for his animation experience in Blue Sky Studios.[8] In November 2008, Illumination Entertainment announced the beginning of development on its first CG animated film and project, Despicable Me.[7][9]

The language spoken by the Minions was invented by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, the directors of the film. The language is sometimes nicknamed "Minionese".[10]

Music[edit]

Composer Heitor Pereira (right) at the recording of the film's score

Despicable Me: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the soundtrack to the film of the same name, and it was released on July 6, 2010. It features new songs from the film written and performed by Pharrell Williams and performances by Destinee & Paris, the Sylvers, Robin Thicke, and the Bee Gees.[11]

Marketing and release[edit]

Universal Pictures partnered the film with licensing and promotional partners valued at $75 million for the marketing campaign. Additional marketing partners for the film included Airheads, Church's Chicken, Hungry Jack's, Color Me Mine, American Express, Kodak, IHOP, and Best Buy.[12]

Despicable Me debuted at the Moscow International Film Festival on June 19, 2010,[13] followed by a premiere on June 27, at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.[14] The film was released in the United States on July 9.[15]

Despicable Me was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3D on December 14, 2010.[16] Physical copies contain behind-the-scenes featurettes, filmmaker commentaries, games,[17] and three short films: Home Makeover, Orientation Day, and Banana.[18]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Despicable Me earned $251.5 million in the United States and Canada and $291.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $543.2 million.[4] It was the ninth-highest-grossing film of 2010.[19]

The film was released with Predators on July 9, 2010,[4][20] Despicable Me earned $21.7 million on its first day. The film debuted earning $60.1 million from 3,476 theaters.[20] Its second weekend earnings dropped by 42 percent to $32.7 million,[21] and followed by another $24.1 million on the third weekend.[22] Despicable Me completed its theatrical run in the United States and Canada on January 20, 2011.[23]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Despicable Me holds an approval rating of 81% based on 202 reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Borrowing heavily (and intelligently) from Pixar and Looney Tunes, Despicable Me is a surprisingly thoughtful, family-friendly treat with a few surprises of its own."[24] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned Despiable Me a score of 72 out of 100 based on 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[25] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[20]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three stars out of four, saying the directors were skilled at "springing surprises" from the writers' "ingenious" screenplay.[26] Peter Debruge of Variety wrote, "Since villains so often steal the show in animation, Despicable Me smartly turns the whole operation over to megalomaniacal rogue Gru."[27] Robert Wilonsky of The Village Voice wrote, "The result is pleasant and diverting, if ultimately forgettable, and it's one of the rare instances in the recent history of 3-D's resurrection as The Savior of Cinema in which the technology doesn't dim the screen or distract the focus."[28] Christy Lemire of the Associated Press wrote, "Kids will dig it, adults will smile with amusement, and no one will be any different afterward than they were walking into the theater."[29] Bill Goodykoontz of The Arizona Republic gave the film three and a half stars out of five, saying, "Neither as rich in story nor stunning in animation as Pixar offerings, Despicable Me instead settles for simply being goofy good fun, and it hardly seems like settling at all."[30]

Carrie Rickey of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying, "Short, sweet-and-sour, and amusing rather than funny, Despicable Me can't help but be likable."[31] Colin Covert of the Star Tribune gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "You'll probably leave the theater smiling, but don't expect to be emotionally engaged, Pixar-style. You'll be tickled, not touched."[32] Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film three stars out of four, saying, "A whip-smart family movie that makes inventive use of the summer's ubiquitous 3-D technology is something worth cheering."[33] Tom Keogh of The Seattle Times gave the film three stars out of four, saying "Despicable Me appeals both to our innocence and our glee over cartoon anarchy."[34] Ty Burr of The Boston Globe gave the film three stars out of four, saying, "Despicable Me has enough visual novelty and high spirits to keep the kiddies diverted and just enough wit to placate the parents."[35] Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four, saying, "The film is funny, energetic, teeth-gnashingly venomous and animated with an eye to exploiting the 3-D process with such sure-fire techniques as a visit to an amusement park."[36] Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying, "By taking the "heart" part just seriously enough, and in the nick of time, the movie saves itself from itself."[37]

Kim Newman of Empire gave the film three stars out of five, saying, "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."[38] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying, "The film throws so much ersatz cleverness and overdone emotion at the audience that we end up more worn out than entertained."[39] Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying, "Unfortunately Despicable Me is just, predictably eh. And the one thing the larcenous Gru never steals is our heart."[40] Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post gave the film three stars out of four, saying, "An improbably heartwarming, not to mention visually delightful, diversion."[41] Rick Groen of The Globe and Mail gave the film four stars out of four, saying, "This animated thing pretty near out-Pixars Pixar."[42] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film two stars out of four, saying, "When compared with the ambition and achievement of recent animated films, such as Coraline and Toy Story 3, Despicable Me hardly seems to have been worth making, and it's barely worth watching."[43]

Bob Mondello of NPR gave the film an eight out of ten, saying, "It's all thoroughly adorable, and with an overlay that's nearly as odd as Carell's accent: Despicable Me looks a lot like other computer-animated pictures."[44] A. O. Scott of The New York Times gave the film two stars out of five, saying, "So much is going on in this movie that, while there's nothing worth despising, there's not much to remember either."[45] Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Despicable doesn't measure up to Pixar at its best. Nonetheless, it's funny, clever and warmly animated with memorable characters."[46] Steve Persall of the Tampa Bay Times gave the film a B, saying, "Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud craft a fun stretch run, wrapping the story with warm, fuzzy funnies and nothing to suggest a sequel, which is probably wise."[47] Tasha Robinson of The A.V. Club gave the film a B, saying, "Until the creep + orphans = happy family formula starts demanding abrupt, unconvincing character mutations, Despicable Me is a giddy joy."[48]

Accolades[edit]

Accolades received by Despicable Me (film)
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Awards December 24, 2010 Best Animated Feature Despicable Me Nominated [49][50]
Best Animated Female Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, and Elsie Fisher Nominated
American Cinema Editors Awards February 19, 2011 Best Edited Animated Feature Film Gregory Perler and Pamela Ziegenhagen-Shefland Nominated [51][52]
Annie Awards February 5, 2011 Best Animated Feature Despicable Me Nominated [53][54]
Outstanding Achievement for Character Design in a Feature Production Carter Goodrich Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Directing in a Feature Production Pierre Coffin Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Music in a Feature Production Pharrell Williams and Heitor Pereira Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Yarrow Cheney and Eric Guillon Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Steve Carell Nominated
ASCAP Awards June 23, 2011 Top Box Office Films Heitor Pereira and Pharrell Williams Won [55]
British Academy Film Awards February 13, 2011 Best Animated Film Despicable Me Nominated [56]
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards December 20, 2010 Best Animated Film Despicable Me Nominated [57]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 14, 2011 Best Animated Feature Despicable Me Nominated [58]
The Comedy Awards March 26, 2011 Best Animated Comedy Movie Despicable Me Nominated [59][60]
Golden Globe Awards January 16, 2011 Best Animated Feature Film Despicable Me Nominated [61]
Golden Reel Awards February 20, 2011 Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR for Animated Feature Film Despicable Me Nominated [62][63]
Houston Film Critics Society Awards December 18, 2010 Best Animated Film Despicable Me Nominated [64]
ICG Publicists Guild Awards February 25, 2011 Maxwell Weinberg Publicists Showmanship Motion Picture Award Despicable Me Nominated [65][66]
National Movie Awards May 10, 2011 Best Animation Despicable Me Nominated [67]
Nebula Awards May 21, 2011 Ray Bradbury Nebula Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin, Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio, and Sergio Pablos Nominated [68][69]
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards April 2, 2011 Favorite Animated Movie Despicable Me Won [70][71]
Favorite Buttkicker Steve Carell Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Awards January 3, 2011 Best Animated Film Despicable Me Nominated [72][73]
People's Choice Awards January 5, 2011 Favorite Family Movie Despicable Me Nominated [74][75]
Producers Guild of America Awards January 22, 2011 Best Animated Motion Picture Despicable Me Nominated [76][77]
Satellite Awards December 19, 2010 Best Animated or Mixed Media Feature Despicable Me Nominated [78][79]
Saturn Awards June 23, 2011 Best Animated Film Despicable Me Nominated [80]
St. Louis Film Critics Association Awards December 20, 2010 Best Animated Film Despicable Me Nominated [81]
Teen Choice Awards August 8, 2010 Choice Summer Movie Despicable Me Nominated [82][83]
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards December 14, 2010 Best Animated Film Despicable Me Runner-up [84]
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards December 6, 2010 Best Animated Feature Despicable Me Nominated [85]
Women Film Critics Circle December 23, 2010 Best Animated Film Despicable Me Won [86]

Sequels and prequels[edit]

Despicable Me was followed by Despicable Me 2 (2013), Despicable Me 3 (2017),[87] and the upcoming Despicable Me 4 (2024).[88] The first film's cast, including Carell, Brand, Cosgrove, Gaier, and Fisher, reprised their roles, alongside new characters voiced by Wiig, Steve Coogan,[89] and Carell. Nev Scharrel was appointed to the role of Agnes in Despicable Me 3.[90] Minions (2015) and Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022) preceded Despicable Me. The films chronicle the history between the Minions and Gru.[87]

Video game[edit]

A video game based on the film, titled Despicable Me: The Game, was released in 2010 for PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and Wii.[91] A Nintendo DS version was also released under the title Despicable Me: The Game - Minion Mayhem.[92]

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