Despicable Me – What’s the problem?

When Despicable Me first came out, my siblings and I saw it together at a sort of local premier. It was how we saw Planet 51 and that awful Indiana Jones cash-in. These things are organised by a legal firm, and they make a bit of a show out of it, throwing candy around and playing trivia games. It’s a good time.

This is the best environment in which to watch a movie. But watching it now, I find myself cringing and that bothers me.

The story is simple enough, with well-known tropes that keep it progressing. The visuals are impressive, mostly aesthetic, and the casting is quite good. I love the theme of family and old vs new without new winning. Also the minions.

So what’s the problem?

First of all, even though the story is good, none of the events that drive it actually make sense. The main character is an evil genius who, rather than making a shrink ray, has to steal one. Yet later, his engineer onboard develops, in a matter of days, complex robots disguised as biscuits. They also build a spaceworthy rocket out of a giant garage sale.

Okay, it’s a kids’ film. Logical consistencies aside, there’s something about the three little girls that really annoys me.

Do you know anyone who acts that way? They’re orphans, apparently used to insults and a form of forced labour. Given that the movie didn’t indulge in angsty scenes about their biological parents, they must have been orphaned long ago.

So why do they act like spoiled brats from the start?

The audience is supposed to see Grue as a bad guy when they ring his bell and he tells them to go away. They’re solicitors (without adult supervision, might I add). He has every right to tell them to bugger off. Later, they try to play this as “Hey you’re that jerk/No I’m not,” but that crap thankfully slinks away in shame almost immediately. They scream and demand a trip to an amusement park. How privileged can you get?

I get that they were always working the angle that kids are a handful and it’s funny to watch them with someone who doesn’t get/like kids. What isn’t funny is watching them misbehave and face zero consequences.

With movies like this, it’s no wonder that kids act out the way they do. The characters in the movie get into everything, break things that are valuable or dangerous, and worst of all: they talk back. This isn’t funny, it’s appalling. True, kids want to do whatever they want, a lot of them are horribly avaricious, and they think they know everything.

But in Despicable Me, everyone acts as though the girls are right. That they aren’t misbehaving, Grue is just a big meanie. Making your kids to get in the car to go to an appointment while they insist they have to go to Britney’s house because they need to finish the fort by Friday IS NOT BEING MEAN. IT IS BEING A PARENT.

Kids don’t know better. I was an unholy terror, but when I talked back, I was punished. I never got my way by stomping my foot, holding my breath, or screaming, or begging. I did a lot of those things. And I got sent to my room.

This group of girls step in on a business meeting and basically clinch the financial ruination of the man who gave them a home.

Why doesn’t anyone make movie where the parents triumph over the brats? I know why we hit this formula for success: kids used to have to obey their parents, and it was escapist fantasy to see children victorious over adults. This was generally accomplished by making all adults morons, which I’m not gonna even touch.

But now it’s the adults losing the fight. All these wishy-washy, guilt-riddled parents who buy their children new toys multiple times a week, collapse for every tantrum, and apologise when they’re in the right.

It’s no wonder there are so many first graders who can’t read.

Ugh, I’m too annoyed to talk about the movie anymore.


2 thoughts on “Despicable Me – What’s the problem?

  1. I think you pretty well summarized the basic problems I had with the film when I saw it. I’m not sure I ever sympathized with the children. I think my assessment was along the lines of: “need discipline, probably a large investiure of time.”

    I don’t think I even noticed the “evil genius needs to steal gadget” when I saw the film. Kudos for finding the egregious plot hole. >:D

  2. I think the thing is that kids films and animated films like that don’t focus so much on true to life aspects like discipline, because it would somehow make the whole thing boring… I don’t know, I personally don’t even put as much focus as you and Nick do on movies like this, but I can see your point.

    As for the whole needing to steal a shrink ray, considering that his engineer is old and hard of hearing (case and point, he asks for cookie robots and gets boogie robots), he probably figured it’d be easier to steal the shrink ray then to ask for it… I’m not saying it’s a perfectly valid explaination, but it’s the best I can come up with… *shrug*

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