Megamind (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
23Feb/110

Megamind (2010)

ANDREW LIKEThere's a sizable twist in Megamind that I had managed to avoid right up until I popped the DVD into my player.  I'm not of the inclination that having a twist ruined in turn kills the whole flick (since it's more about the execution and less the plot) but I was grateful for the path this superhero flick took.  It still suffers from a lot of the typical Dreamworks problems, but it's also got a sad streak that gives it extra heft I liked.

Megamind tells a sort of polarized Superman tale.  A young blue skinned alien carrying all the hopes and dreams of his dying planet is placed into a little rocket ship and sent to Earth.  On a similar ship a more charming, perfectly groomed, super-powered and more passably human baby crosses paths with him.  Poor little blue baby lands in a prison while the impossibly perfect baby is raised by wealthy parents who encouraged him to overcompensate by never paying attention.

They grow up and the blue and perfect babies engage in a rivalry fueled on blue's desire to please and the perfect one's ego.  Eventually blue realizes that he is better at doing harm than good and dubs himself Megamind (voiced by Will Ferrell) in response to his perfect rival who flies around defending the city as Metro Man (Brad Pitt).  Megamind, animators bless 'em, is just really bad at being bad and does it mostly to fulfill the expectations that other people set for him.

Metro Man has a bit too much smug face, but at least there's sort of a point to it this time.

Following Megamind around is his pet fish Minion (David Cross) and covering Metro Man's exploits are the stock reporter Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey) and her nerdy cameraman  Hal Stewart (Jonah Hill).  Hal is hopelessly infatuated with Roxanne, who appears to carry a small torch for Metro Man.  All the while Megamind plots and schemes to find a way to get the world to respect him, most likely by toppling Metro Man.

Without giving away too much, Megamind accomplishes his lifelong dream of becoming a true evil master and finds the whole thing dreadfully empty.  Megamind sinks into existential despair until he finds a way to reverse engineer his greatest triumph, but that may turn out to be an even bigger mistake.  The crux of the film rests on the idea that Megamind should have been the hero that Metro Man was, but because of their upbringing it might be too late for all.

I'm kind of surprised at how sad or deluded all of these characters are.  Megamind decided to turn to crime because he was taunted as a kid and accidentally blew up things when he really wanted to help.  He's just fulfilling a niche that other people decided he needed to fill.  Metro Man is no better, he's a hero but he's also lonely.  Placing himself away from everyone else as a pillar of strength, superhero or no, has left him without anyone to talk to and wonders if he really has the life that he wants.  Even Mel turns out to be an interestingly flawed possible hero/villain since he's given the opportunity of a lifetime late in the film and wants to be anyone but himself.

There were quite a few goofy moments that at least made me smile if not chuckle.

In spite of these stabs at intelligence and well developed characters, it seems that Dreamworks still can't make a movie without resorting to a number of cheesy pop songs to underline everyone's motivation.  Plus the well established Dreamworks smug face is in full on prominence far too much. It's most displayed with Roxanne, who the writers could not find anything interesting to do with than be a love interest for all and get into trouble.

Continuing the trend of How To Train Your Dragon there are still hints of promise and growth on display.  A lot of Megamind's animation is more chaotic and expressive in the style of Tex Avery instead of disaffected teen.  Plus the showdown at the end has a lot of little creative flourishes that kept things as interesting as the leads, especially where Megamind's little egg robot servants are concerned.  Then there were the many Marlon Brando and superhero homages that were cute enough to be enjoyable, and just clever enough to avoid eking into the obnoxious territory.

I really dug these characters and what this film tried to accomplish.  A little less pandering to the lowest common denominator and it could have been something special.  But it's entertaining for what it is, and I felt bad for Megamind's optimistic little self.  Be nice to the little guys, they may rule us all someday.

Megamind (2010)
Directed by Tom McGrath.
Screenplay by Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons.
Featuring the voices of Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt. 

Posted by Andrew

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