DVD Release Date:  February 22, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: November 5, 2010
Rating: PG (for action and some language)
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family
Run Time: 95 min.
Director: Tom McGrath
Actors: Voices of Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross, Justin Theroux, Ben Stiller, Jessica Schulte, J.K. Simmons

It's déjà vu all over again with Dreamworks' Megamind, yet another superhero story in which super-villains go to great lengths to undermine the good guys. Think The Incredibles, Despicable Me, Shrek Forever After or … well, we've seen a lot of this sort of story recently. Each story has its own spin on the hero/villain dynamic, but they share a common result: They all generated sizable box-office grosses.

So it's not surprising to see Dreamworks using that same plot element in Megamind, a surprisingly witty film with lively vocal performances.

The pre-credits sequence sets a high bar for what's to come—a bar that the film manages to clear—as the large, blue-headed alien Megamind (voice of Will Ferrell), in the midst of an apparent fall to his death, recounts his origins story: Sent to earth by his parents just before his home planet is destroyed (think Superman), Megamind lands in a prison. But he's not the only one sent to earth on a mission. Also arriving is Metro Man (Brad Pitt), who lands in a mansion. "Even fate picks its favorites," sighs Megamind.

They'll spend years fighting for control of Metro City. While Metro Man receives public adulation, Megamind learns early that the only thing he's good at is being bad. Concluding that he's destined to be a super-villain, Megamind embraces his evil side, declares himself an "evil overlord" and attempts to undermine anything good done by Metro Man—capped by the destruction of Metro Man himself.

But once Metro Man is out of the picture, Megamind loses his purpose. "What's the point of running rampant through the streets without you?" he wonders. Not even his sidekick, Minion (David Cross), can cheer him up.

With no one good to fight against, Megamind must invent a hero. Enter Titan, the superhero version of Hal (Jonah Hill), the hapless, slovenly cameraman for newscaster Roxanne (Tina Fey). She's also Megamind's favorite pawn in his various schemes, displaying a "frequent kidnapping card" after Megamind takes her hostage for the umpteenth time. But Hal has his own scores to settle. He's not interested in being the good guy. That's "for losers."

The film's bright visuals match its verbal wit. While the story's humor should come across just fine in standard 2D, the extra dimension provides its share of fun moments. It may be worth the extra money for 3D tickets in this instance, although the 3D experience is far from essential to enjoying the story. Also refreshing is the film's lack of reliance on tasteless pop-culture references. (The film's visual and verbal references to Richard Donner's Superman (1978) feel like a loving homage rather than a cheap gag.) Parents are more likely to be made uncomfortable by the film's heavy-metal soundtrack, although even those songs are sometimes edited to humorous effect (AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" cuts out just before the word "hell" is heard).