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).

 

Ferrell's voice work is fine, but Fey's Roxanne is the key to much of the film's enjoyment. Whether taking Megamind down a peg or warding off the unwanted advances by Hal, Roxanne is fearless and independent, a spunky heroine who should appeal to young women looking for someone to stand toe to toe with the male superheroes.

But who's looking for a serious message in a silly movie like Megamind? Its story may feel a bit familiar at times, but if it's laughs you want, you won't be disappointed.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity:  "Butt"; "freakin'"; a t-shirt says "Bite Me."

  • Smoking/Drinking/Drugs:  Wine/champagne served with dinner.

  • Sex/Nudity:  A hug and a kiss.

  • Violence/Crime:  Megamind learns the difference between "right" and "wrong" from prisoners; Megamind is pummeled during a dodgeball game; a tasering; Megamind is punched; Megamind threatens a reporter, who remains unfazed even after she's kidnapped by Megamind; a death ray destroys an observatory, and a skeleton of someone inside the observatory lands at Megamind's feet; a character is smacked with a stick; a wedgie; a car accident; a large-scale fight scene; car wrecks; explosions; a threat to "go gangsta" on someone.

  • Religion/Morals:  Brief mentions of fate, for example, "Even fate picks its favorites"; discussion of how goodness if valued and rewarded, while evil is punished; Megamind says he was destined to be a super-villain because being bad was the only thing he was any good at; soundtrack includes several heavy-metal songs, including AC/DC's "Highway to Hell," although the word "hell" is cut off as it plays; a reference to "evil heaven"; Megamind is dubbed an "evil overlord"; a theme about how evil can't exist without some good to oppose it; a man is said to be "infused with godlike power"; a reference to the "blackest part" of one's heart, and to some "good" within; a distinction between the path given us and the path we make for ourselves.
     

Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.