Despicable Me

For: moral confusion, pervasive comical pain, and crude humor

Despicable Me couldn't be both bad and good at the same time, so it tried for both bad and cute, and succeeded.  Its catchy one-liners and cute situations do have a certain appeal in the moment, but each one of them is thoroughly blended with crude humor, normalized brattiness, normalized crime, junior grade sadism and diverse and sundry other kinds of folly.  Despicable Me's three little orphan girls may be able to change Gru the supervillain's priorities, but they don't get to change ours.



Moral Confusion
Gru does a lot of bad things.  If he repented of them all, that wouldn’t be a problem.  But he doesn’t.  Even in the end, when he decides to give up his latest illegally-obtained prize, it’s only because circumstances force him to, not because of any newfound right-versus-wrong convictions.  Gru’s other crimes are treated with flippancy.

One of the most heartwarming scenes in the whole movie is when the girls and Gru’s minions all come together with their personal savings to help Gru build his dream rocket… so that he can commit another crime.

Gru’s attempts to murder a fellow thief are at best lightly, at worst positively portrayed.

In revenge for a carnival game’s difficulty, Gru blows it up, injuring the man operating it.  The girls think it’s “awesome” and ask him to blow up another game.  In the real world, this is immoral and illegal.

The three girls are portrayed positively, but the only things keeping them from looking like the nasty little brats from other movies are a few cute lines, and the fact that Gru is worse than they are.  Whatever Gru tells them to do, they don’t do.  Whatever Gru tells them not to do, they do.  When one of them destroys her own toy, she holds her breath until she faints to get Gru to buy her a new one.  Another one tells Gru that they’ll just keep disobeying him until he reads them a story.  They stick out their tongues.  They kick people.  In real life, the girls would be considered very badly behaved, but in Despicable Me, they’re made to look cute and normal.

The girls pray before going to bed, but one of them is obviously insincere, and another prays for a pet unicorn.  The prayer is left as a mere ritual.


Pervasive Comical Pain 
Gru’s minions hit each other.  Constantly.  Then the offender laughs while the victim reels and/or falls from a great height.

Gru’s minions are run over, experimented on, irretrievably sent into outer space, et cetera.  Also constantly.

The struggles between Gru and his rival thief feature comical pain ranging from smashing to electrocuting, to encasing the opponent’s head in ice, to exchanging deadly missiles.  The little girls and Gru’s mom also get in on inflicting unjustified comical injury.


Crude Humor
Underwear.  Fart guns.  A drawing of Gru on the toilet.  A long line of naked statues.  A scatalogical exclamation.  Minions laughing hysterically while one of them takes scans of its bare behind and passes the photos around.  Et cetera.

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