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Actors often say that villains are more fun to play than heroes, which may explain why they're often more fun to watch too. Othello is noble, but Iago's more interesting. Batman's the good guy, but the Joker gets the punch lines. Now some animated children's films are bumping the traditional hero altogether and focusing on figures usually typecast as bad guys. Shrek is an ogre. And the Me in "Despicable Me" is a criminal mastermind.

Well, Bob Mondello suggests we add one more antihero to this list: "Megamind."

BOB MONDELLO: Start with a�familiar - really familiar for adults - superhero origin story on a planet that's about to explode, young parents place an infant in a spacecraft bound for Earth.

(Soundbite of film, "Megamind")

Unidentified Woman #1: Here is your sidekick.

Unidentified Man #1: And here is your binky. You are destined for...

Unidentified Man #2: Destined for what? I didn't quite hear that last part.

MONDELLO: The twist in "Megamind" is that this scenario happens twice, with one kid growing up the hero we expect.

(Soundbite of film, "Megamind")

Unidentified Woman #2: Happy Metro Man Day, Metro City.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Unidentified Man #3: I love you, Metro Man.

Mr. BRAD PITT (Actor): (As Metro Man) And I love you, random citizen.

MONDELLO: The other kid, growing into the archenemy role.

(Soundbite of film, "Megamind")

(Soundbite of evil laugh)

Unidentified Man #4: Megamind.

Mr. WILL FERRELL (Actor): (As Megamind) Oh, bravo, Metro Man.

MONDELLO: Emphasis on the archness in archenemy, because his mind isn't all that mega.

(Soundbite of film, "Megamind")

Mr. FERRELL: This is the day you and the Metro City shall not soon forget.

(Soundbite of evil laugh)

Mr. PITT: It's pronounced Metro City.

Mr. FERRELL: Oh, potato, tomato, potato.

MONDELLO: Superhero conventions being what they are, it never occurs to Will Ferrell's Megamind that he might really triumph over Brad Pitt's Metro Man. So when he accidentally does, after a few minutes of gloating, he has absolutely no idea what to do with himself. And therein hangs the rest of a tale that director Tom McGrath and his animating minions have made quirky, clever and as artfully three-dimensional as it is jokey, which is�saying�something.

(Soundbite of film, "Megamind")

Mr. FERRELL: In case you haven't noticed, you've fallen right into my trap.

Mr. PITT: You can't trap justice. It's an idea. A belief.

Mr. FERRELL: Even the most heartfelt belief can be corroded over time.

Mr. PITT: Justice is a non-corrosive metal.

Mr. FERRELL: But metals could be melted by the heat of revenge.

Mr. PITT: It's revenge and it's best served cold.

Mr. FERRELL: But it can easily be reheated in the microwave of evil.

Mr. PITT: Well, I think your warranty is about to expire.

Mr. FERRELL: Maybe I got an extended warranty.

Mr. PITT: Warranties are invalid if you don't use the product for its intended purpose.

Ms. TINA FEY (Actor): (As Roxanne Ritchi) Oh, girls, girls, you're both pretty. Can I go home now?

MONDELLO: That's the voice of Tina Fey, snarky in what you might call the Lois Lane role, and dismissive enough of both the full-of-himself superhero and a pair of puffed-up uber-villains that you can almost forget she's stuck playing a damsel in distress. Guess even a superhero spoof can't stray too far from convention - maybe in the inevitable sequel she'll get superpowers of her own.

Meanwhile, younger audiences can chortle at "Megamind's" slapstick and the goofy one-upmanship while adults get a kick out of all these smart spatial tricks that highlight the 3-D effects, and a running joke where Will Ferrell channels Marlon Brando as Jor-El. Kids watching�Megamind�will have no idea why you're laughing at that, but that's a good thing, right? There'll be plenty of time later on for them to become meta-mindful.

I'm Bob Mondello.

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