Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cleared: Despicable Me

I realized I needed to get cracking on clearing out some stuff, so I grabbed Despicable Me from a Redbox kiosk on the way home for just that purpose. The movie works on several levels. First of all, it is actually effective at what it sets out to do - the humor is actually funny, and the parts intended to be heartwarming are actually touching. The antics of the little minion creatures were cute and funny without getting obnoxious. Gru and Nefario made likeable antihero protagonists, and there was plenty of humor for adults. (Gru's trip to the Starbucks Coffee Shop towards the beginning of the film springs to mind as an especially effective example, and the whole Gru vs. Vector thing seems like a thinly-veiled reference to the whole Mac vs. PC squabble that's been going on for years.) There's a very real, if not very dark, redemption story in there, too. All in all, I liked it. It's not Great Art Cinema, but it is a quality, charming animated movie.

RPG notes: This is, as usual, where the spoilers live, so tread carefully if you haven't watched it yet. The movie contains a number of ideas that could be poached for gaming campaigns, the first of which that popped out at me being the Bank of Evil. While on its surface, the concept is silly, it barely takes any effort at all to imagine an amoral financial institution bankrolling shady goings-on around the world. In fact, they made a movie about that very concept called The International a while back, and it most certainly was not a comedy or for children. The shrink weapon (and its side effects) might be fun in a weird science or supers game, and the little minion creatures (or other critters that act like them - small-sized fantasy "cannon fodder" races like goblins and kobolds could easily be hacked to act like the minions) would be a great addition to a lighthearted campaign world. Finally, Gru demonstrates a number of times throughout the movie that you can be intimidating without actually resorting to a demonstration of violence or even direct threats, and that's a useful tool for a player or GM's storytelling toolbox.

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