Wednesday 16 Apr

Dustin Prinz - Eleven

Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Horse Thief – Fear in Bliss

Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild — felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
04/08/2014 | Comments 0

Colourmusic — May You Marry Rich

There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
04/01/2014 | Comments 0

Em and the MotherSuperiors — Churches into Theaters

As titles go, Churches into Theaters is an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
03/25/2014 | Comments 0

Rachel Brashear — Revolution

Rachel Brashear’s second EP, Revolution, starts with a kick to the shins.
03/18/2014 | Comments 0
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Despite a few moments of inspiration, 'Despicable Me' is disposable stuff

Phil Bacharach July 15th, 2010

Among the pop-culture treasures of Mad magazine is its venerable "Spy vs. Spy" series. With its two saboteurs hell-bent on doing each other in, the comic strip is a wry send-up of dastardly high-tech espionage. "Despicable Me," a new computer-generated, 3-D animated movie that involves a pair of adversarial supervillains, is at its best when seeking to replicate that scrappy vibe.

But "Despicable Me" is about 90 minutes longer than it would take most Mad connoisseurs to buzz through a page. So the filmmakers also borrow elsewhere to fill things out and satiate the summer appetite for kid-friendly fodder. It's not for nothing that the movie pilfers from Pixar, the gold standard of animated film.

The main character bears a resemblance to the food critic from "Ratatouille." A little orphan girl is a stand-in for Boo from "Monsters Inc.," and the bad guy appears to be the love child of Bill Gates and the diminutive costumer from "The Incredibles."

But "Despicable Me" isn't alone in stealing from the Pixar canon. Screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul ("Horton Hears a Who!") rejigger the heartless-grows-a-heart plot of Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and snag a big-finish dance number from the "Shrek" playbook.

The "Me" of the title is Gru (voiced by Steve Carell, "Date Night"), a hunched, straw-legged, Russian-accented supervillain whose most notorious thefts include the Times Square Jumbotron and a faux Statue of Liberty. Not surprisingly, such heists pale beside those of a hot new baddie on the scene, the nerdy Vector (Jason Segel, "I Love You, Man"), who has swiped the Great Pyramid of Giza. The competition sends Gru, more sensitive and insecure than your run-of-the-mill criminal mastermind, into a tailspin, and he resolves to get back in the game by stealing the moon.

For that, however, he needs a shrink ray in Vector's possession. Through a tortured plot contrivance, Gru adopts three little orphan girls Vector has allowed into his fortress-styled house because they sell a type of Girl Scout cookie he likes.

A mean-spirited villain with no use for children? A trio of cute orphans? What do you think could possibly happen here?

Despite the predictability of its cut-and-paste screenplay, perhaps the most surprising thing about "Despicable Me" is how accomplished it is once you set aside the story. Its animation, a cross-pollination of "Looney Tunes" and Charles Addams, has a hyper-caffeinated stylishness that almost compensates for the labored slapstick. When the funniest bit is a pun on a fart gun " or did you mean "dart" gun? " you've got trouble.

Moreover, directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud have the good fortune of some gifted voice performers. Carrel manages to imbue Gru with a vulnerability beyond the tired neglected-child flashbacks provided by the script, while Russell Brand ("Get Him to the Greek") admirably tamps down his oversized persona as Gru's go-to inventor, Dr. Nefario.

Most inspired of all are the "minions," Gru's scores of yellow, marshmallow-shaped, goggle-eyed helpers. These creatures are tailor-made for crass marketing, but they're undeniably amusing. Here's hoping for more minions " and fewer everything else " in the inevitable sequel. "Phil Bacharach
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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