Monday, December 13, 2010


I’ve made no bones about my disdain for the movie calendar of 2010. Week in and week out, I peruse the local show times on Moviefone and week in and week out, I come away disappointed. 2010 has been Hollywood’s dumping ground for lackluster, underperforming material that would be drowned out in a typical year but that must now be highlighted because, well, what the heck else are you going to see? One area, though, where 2010 has excelled is in the quality of its animated films. “How to Train Your Dragon” was a landmark film for Dreamworks. “Toy Story 3” will likely receive a nomination for Best Picture. Disney’s “Tangled” is currently taking the box office by storm. Even “Despicable Me,” which I didn’t love but certainly enjoyed, was a tremendous success both critically and monetarily. In short, it’s been a banner year for animated features and “Megamind” falls right in line.

When his galaxy collapses, Megamind (Will Ferrell), a blue skinned Martian baby with a giant head, is jettisoned to planet Earth at the same time as Metro Man (Brad Pitt), a Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman wannabe. Whereas Metro Man falls into the lap of luxury and is embraced by the city of Metro City, Megamind is an outcast and quickly learns that the only way to be noticed is to become Metro Man’s super villain rival. A battle wages between the two until the day that one of Megamind’s evil schemes actually works and Metro City is left without its hero. It’s a glorious but fleeting moment for Megamind who soon discovers that it’s no fun to run amok with no one to oppose you. With this thought in mind he turns a normal geek (Jonah Hill) into a would-be super hero named Titan and trains him to fight. Unfortunately his plan goes awry and Titan becomes more than he can handle, leading to a change of heart for Megamind and an epic fight that puts everyone in jeopardy, including his new love, Roxanne (Tina Fey).

“Megamind” is a smart comedy that is part-spoof, part-original concept but wholly entertaining from start to finish. The assembled voice talent is strong and for the most part the actors mesh well together. While Pitt is the biggest name on the bill, Metro Man is on screen for only a small portion of the run time, leaving the film in the capable hands of “Saturday Night Live” buddies Ferrell and Fey. I’m a huge fan of Ferrell and have always been quick to his defense. Like him or not, you cannot deny that the man understands comedy and what makes people laugh. He’s not perfect but his range as a comedian is much larger than he’s often given credit for. “Megamind” allows for the display of that range as he must rely on his voice talent and comedic timing instead of falling back on the physical humor he is known for. Fey, meanwhile, follows Ferrell’s lead and delivers a quality if unspectacular character whose chemistry with Megamind is undeniable. And when the two leads need a hand it is usually given them by David Cross (“Arrested Development”), one of the very best supporting men in the comedy game today.

“Megamind” strikes a similar tone to the standard Dreamworks animated production: fun premise, moments of adult humor, and a bit lacking in the heart department as compared to Pixar/Disney. It is playful and endearing but its more meaningful scenes come across as somewhat hollow. It does bring a solid chunk of wit to the table, however, and some devious moments of dark comedy that are sold beautifully by Ferrell and Cross. In the end, “Megamind” doesn’t match up to the near-impossibly high standard set by the Pixar Universe or “How to Train Your Dragon” but it is an overwhelmingly enjoyable, fun, and fast paced superhero romp that carries on the legacy of 2010 animation.

I don’t really get Jonah Hill,

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