Despicable Me (U)

Another Pixar-wannabe rolls off the production line, reminding us why we should accept no substitutes.

A This CG animation, in mandatory 3D, concerns the twisted machinations of an evil genius named Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) who's desperate to get his hands on a "shrink-ray". Why? So that he can outwit his rival Vector (Jason Segel) by stealing the Moon and thus become "the greatest villain of all time". To this end he adopts three cookie-selling orphan girls who will unwittingly smuggle Gru's mini-robots inside Vector's bright white lair... but Gru reckons without the tender feelings the trio of un-parented waifs engender in him. It's an echo of the old grouch and his little helper in last year's Up, only then it was touching and funny; whereas here it's sickly and, what's more, implausible: nothing about Gru previously suggested he may have untapped paternal proclivities. But then its limited psychology is in keeping with its crude plotting and silly minor characters (Russell Brand can be heard voicing a madcap inventor). This effort is most certainly for kids, rather than adults, so consider yourselves warned.