The studio’s latest been-there-done-that computer-generated cash cow is “Megamind.” Like the “Shrek” franchise, it features a bad guy who isn’t a villain so much as a misunderstood lug. Like the “Madagascar” movies, it often confuses wit with frenetic montages in which creatures dance, dance, dance. Like “Monsters vs. Aliens,” it offers characters only as memorable as needed for inclusion in a fast-food kiddie meal.
And like virtually every other family friendly picture in the multiplex, it was in 3-D in theaters. It’s 2-D on Blu-ray and DVD, with a host of special features, including a new “Megamind” short, “The Button of Doom.”
The title character of Megamind, voiced by Will Ferrell (“The Other Guys”), is a blue-skinned space alien sent to Earth as an infant and raised by hardened criminals behind prison walls. Not surprisingly, the big-brained Megamind turns to a life of villainy when his schoolmates reject him and instead flock to the heroics of another orphaned alien, the Superman-styled Metro Man (Brad Pitt, “Inglourious Basterds”).
The routine battles between hero and villain take an unexpected turn when Megamind actually triumphs in one such skirmish. But the life of an evildoer, Megamind learns, is pretty dull when there’s no one to challenge him. He sets out to create a new opponent, the schlubbly cameraman (Jonah Hill, “Get Him to the Greek”) of Lois Lane-ish TV reporter Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey, “Date Night”).
Spoofing sci-fi and comic-book movies isn’t the height of innovation, by any stretch, but “Megamind” rates several cuts above cut-rate. Debuting screenwriters Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons are smart enough to take the story into some unexpected turns. Characters actually surprise you a bit, and the voice work — particularly Ferrell and the ever-sunny David Cross (“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel”) as a talking fish — helps breathe life into archetypes.
The animation is equally impressive. Director Tom McGrath (both “Madagascar”s) does a fine job showcasing the effects without straining, and there is exemplary detail and texture throughout. If “Megamind” is ultimately more “meh” than “mega,” it nevertheless works as a pleasant diversion. —Phil Bacharach