From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block. It's been a pretty busy summer for 3-D animation: "Shrek 4," "Toy Story 3" and now an animated comedy without a number in its title, "Despicable Me."

The film has hundreds of what look like corn puffs, serving a comically devilish character voiced by Steve Carell. Bob Mondello has a review.

BOB MONDELLO: Gru is despicable on purpose. He means to be the biggest villain in the world. But he's not very good at villainy, and he's got competition, so he gets no respect. Not even from his mom, who calls him in his jet car just to bug him.

(Soundbite of film, "Despicable Me")

Ms. JULIE ANDREWS (Actor): (As Gru's Mom) I just wanted to congratulate you on stealing the pyramid. That was you, wasn't it, or was it a villain who's actually successful?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. STEVE CARELL (Actor): (As Gru) Just so you know, Mom, I am about to do something that's very, very big, very important. When you hear about it, you're going to be very proud.

Ms. ANDREWS: Ha, good luck with that.

MONDELLO: Gru's evil plans are big and inordinately complicated, involving shrink rays, bank loans, rockets and most of all, minions.

(Soundbite of film, "Despicable Me")

(Soundbite of laughing)

MONDELLO: He's got hundreds of minions, little helpers who look like really big, smiling yellow pills, and who do their thoroughly misguided best to help him -with results that are usually not quite what Gru intended, and that often result in disaster for at least a few of their minion buddies.

(Soundbite of film, "Despicable Me")

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONDELLO: For reasons complicated enough that you'll want to discover them for yourself, Gru also gets involved with three little orphan girls. Technically, he adopts them. But practically speaking, they're in control, even when he's making the rules.

(Soundbite of film, "Despicable Me")

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. CARELL: (As Gru) Rule Number one: You will not touch anything.

Unidentified Girl #1 (Actor): (As character) Uh-huh, what about the floor?

Mr. CARELL: (As Gru) Yes, you may touch the floor.

Unidentified Girl #2 (Actor): (As character) What about the air?

Mr. CARELL: (As Gru) Yes, you may touch the air. Okay, rule number two: You will not bother me while I'm working. Rule number three: You will not cry or whine or laugh or giggle or sneeze or burp or fart. So no, no, no annoying sounds. Right?

Unidentified Girl #3 (Actor): (As character) Does this count as annoying?

(Soundbite of clucking)

MONDELLO: Adorable, right? And with an overlay here that's nearly as odd as Steve Carell's accent. "Despicable Me" looks a lot like other computer-animated pictures: white picket-fence suburbs, rounded characters, sleek and modern - but with a retro afterglow.

Gru and his minions have all these weird contraptions: a jet car that looks sort of steam-powered; cookie robots that skitter like insects. It's as if Jules Verne somehow got into the Pixar toolbox.

The film does come from a French animation studio, so it makes sense that it would feel a little different, also that the storytelling would take some weird turns: villains with mommy issues and daddy trouble, shout-outs to "Jaws" and "Spy vs. Spy." It takes some tricky visual turns, too, including a ride on a roller coaster that if you see it in 3-D, will for sure give you vertigo.

Actually, don't leave when the end credits start or you'll miss the minions doing a nifty little deconstruction of 3-D. Judging from the mishaps they have during the picture, I'd have said these little, yellow dudes were kind of dim. But they establish, while the credits roll, that minions understand 3-D a heck of a lot better than the folks who made "Last Airbender" or "The Clash of the Titans." Maybe they should try directing.

I'm Bob Mondello.

BLOCK: We have reviews of other movies opening this weekend, including "Predators" and "The Kids Are All Right," at

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