VOICES OF: Brad Pitt, Will Ferrell, Tina
Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross, Justin Theroux, Ben Stiller
2010, 96 Minutes, Directed by:
this gifted cast and production team, it’s a crime that Megamind isn’t a
funnier, livelier picture . . .
A flaccid superhero satire
fashioned with stunning animation, the picture feels like a runaway farce that
barely wheezes out of the starting gate. The ingredients are there to make
something uproarious, especially in the CG-animated realm where superhero
business can assume an epic form, but there’s a distinctly deflated ambiance to
the shenanigans, leaving the picture serious eye-candy on the prowl for belly
laughs it infuriatingly never finds.
An infant alien sent to Earth
after his home world was destroyed, Megamind (voiced by Will Ferrell) was raised
in the comfortable confines of prison, taught to loathe good and practice evil,
using his massive intellect as a weapon. Growing up with Metro Man (Brad Pitt),
a Superman-style hero
who protects the adoring inhabitants of Metro City, Megamind has perfected the
nemesis routine, often using reporter Roxanne (Tina Fey) as bait.
However, when the hapless
schemes of Megamind actually manage to kill Metro Man, the blue-skinned,
bulbous-headed supervillian is left to live life without an equal. Finding
depression and an evacuated city, Megamind turns to slob cameraman Hal (Jonah
Hill) for help, using a formula to turn the schlub into a hero, thus restoring
needed balance to the neurotic madman’s life.
"A mediocre movie that never lives up to its potential . . ."
The director of the blockbuster
Madagascar films, Tom McGrath (who also voices one of the franchise’s
penguin characters) heads in a slightly less frantic direction with Megamind,
but his timing couldn’t be worse. Coming right on the heels of last summer’s
similar Despicable Me, it appears 2010 is the
year of the sympathetic supervillain, with the bad guys finding a heart of gold
in the animated realm.
Co-produced by Ben Stiller,
Megamind has a moderately more adult bite to it that’s initially intriguing,
pushing a cast well known for their improvisational skills to lend the feature
an accelerated sense of humor. The idea of letting the likes of Farrell, Fey,
and Hill loose within this colorful playground is undeniably appealing, but the
picture rarely clicks as smoothly as it should, caught between the slapstick
demands of the genre and the exceedingly clever tongues of the cast.
McGrath doesn’t sustain a
welcome madness to the proceedings, clutching redemption clichés to provide a
heart this movie didn’t need. Not that Megamind is swallowed by heavy
drama; it’s a light-hearted film, but never steamrolls over the audience in a
clever manner that would extensively energize the execution. Instead, the film
volleys feebly between yuks and exposition, building a story I’m convinced most
audiences will ignore, instead waiting patiently for a madcap tone to take
While the writing and pace are
slack, Megamind does score mightily in the visual department. McGrath
shows a terrific eye for towering citywide annihilation, highlighting the
alien’s propensity for outlandish mechanics of destruction and his seizure of
the city when Metro Man exits the picture. The 3D presentation doesn’t go hog
wild, but the added dimension comes in handy when absorbing this scale of
villainy. The picture is at its finest in the heat of the moment, watching as
Megamind and his fish pal Minion (voiced by David Cross) prepare for battle,
taking down most of the metropolis with them. The same awe holds for Metro Man
as well, with McGrath hitting the swooping superhero notes comically, but
A few little improved lines
from Fey deliver laughs, and an extended bit where Ferrell summons the ghost of
Brando-as-Jor-El to effectively teach Hal the ways of caped heroism is amusing.
Yet, overall, Megamind is a flat, rote cartoon, though a handsomely
mounted bit of mediocrity when it truly grasps the potential of the concept.
- Brian Orndorf