One of the nicer trends in kids' animated movies is that, more and more, these movies have as much for adults as for children. Despicable Me had the promise of combining kids' fun with a darker sense of humor -- but lost this potential grown-up element pretty quickly.

Gru (Steve Carell) seems the perfect villain: menacing German-Russian-something accent; long dark jacket; bald head, pointy, nose, and hunched posture; massive vehicles that spew pollution; house towering menacingly over those of his neighbors. Yet Gru can't seem to get any respect (the cute yellow minions that all sound like they've been sucking helium don't help), the Bank of Evil won't loan him money, and newcomer Vector (Jason Segel) is younger and pulled off a great crime. So Gru, with his minions and elderly henchman Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), comes up with the greatest crime ever: Steal the moon!

Unfortunately, the shrink ray Gru needs is stolen by Vector, and the way to get is back is, of all things, a trio of young orphans. Margo (Miranda Cosgrove) is cautious, even cynical, about Gru; Edith (Dana Gaier) has a slightly dark side; and young Agnes (Else Fisher) is the designated cute one, complete with a unicorn obsession. Will they melt Gru's heart? Or will Gru remain truly... despicable?

The early part of Despicable Me has some truly lovely dark humor, from Gru's home decor (lots of stuffed animals, weaponry all over the place) to his massive metallic vehicles that no one seems to notice driving down the street. Pretty soon the kids, as Dr. Nefario points out, are a distraction -- to the movie. The cuteness factor soon overwhelms the movie, turning this into just another kids' movie with lots of aaaawwww moments -- and less laughs.

Despicable Me is a nice movie, but if it had kept its nasty streak it could have been far above average. The animation is good, Carrel's voice (well, accent) is fine, even the minions are cute -- but in the end this one aims its sights squarely at the kids, leaving the adults wanting more.

Overall grade: C
Reviewed by James Lynch

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