I honestly can't remember the last time at the cinema when I laughed so hard that enough tears formed to obscure my vision.
And this for the 2D version of the movie – damn it, why wasn't a 3D version of the movie screened for the preview audience, considering this IS a 3D movie? (Yes, the answer is kinda obvious, don't say it.)
Unlike other so-called 3D movies, this one is is not converted/fake 3D, but beyond that, they actually made use (made fun of) the whole objects-popping-out-of-the-screen thing (but to serve the story ... or generate laughing beats, not just a 'wow' effect). I'm absolutely gonna watch the movie again, in 3D. And for those of you who are planning to watch the movie (all of you, I hope), you should never, never, never watch it in 2D. It's just a waste.
To reiterate - WATCH IT IN FREAKIN' 3D!!!
As for the movie, the story works, the characters are funny and lovable sometimes even capable of generating heartwarming sentiments (that includes the movie's villainy protagonist), the jokes range from sniggling funny to uncontrollable laughter funny, the pacing of the movie is perfect, the animation while often simplistic (in the sense that it generally lacks texture details which you'd expect to see in Pixar and Dreamworks productions, though not at the level of Astro Boy) serves the story just fine.
But above all, the yellow minions.
I am not kidding.
I'm trying to remember the last time I found a character design (and character mannerism) that is so lovably cute. If I try hard enough I may be able to think of one, but otherwise, I may have to go all the way back to Totoro to find another character that is just as cute and idiosyncratic and how-I-so-wish-it-were-real-so-that-I-could-erm-squeak-it.
They provide some of the biggest laughs, with their nonsensical dialogue ('Baboy?' 'Baboy! Ba-boooy ...'), hyperactively hoppy demeanour, gung-ho do-anything-the-boss-asks attitude, with boundless (and sometimes misplaced) optimism, and a cute tendency to engage in mischievous sibling-rivalry type of bullying ('poka??' PUNCH!). Most of all, is a torchlight gag that sent my friend Dominic laughing so much that I think he missed the next two jokes of the scene.
If the movie wasn't this good, I'd have do one of those film critic things and say, "If only we had more of the yellow minions ..." But, to its credit, the rest of the movie managed to sustain our interest and did not get overshadowed by the minions. It managed to weave in what initially seems to be an off-tangent subplot involving three girls, which provides a kind of heart to the movie that is only slightly surprising. ('Only slightly' because lately, for whatever reason, animated features have started improving their storytelling – not just the jokes, but good drama as well. This is true even for the last Shrek movie.)
The movie is manic, and eager to throw scene after scene that consists of funny gags, not all that is necessarily relevant to the main plot but which the audience clearly found hysterically funny ... but ultimately everything makes sense, including character motivations and plot ... that is, if you still have the mental capacity to analyse the damn thing after laughing at yet another minion joke.
By the way, if you think Julie Andrews didn't get to shine with her voice acting in the Shrek movies ... man ... alright, just go see it, figure it out yourself which character she is.
Oh yes, there was a joke involving the current financial crisis ... unfortunately, no credit to Malaysians, my friend Dominic and I were the only ones laughing out loud at the cinema. Perhaps there were no accountants or businessmen in the entire screening. Then there was another joke that generated complete silence that referenced Coppola's The Godfather.
Funniest movie I've seen this year, so far.
One thing I noticed: pretty much the entire animation team are French, and the movie is listed as (and announced during the trailer as) 'A Chris Meledandri Production'. Meledandri apparently previously produced lots of successful Fox movies like Ice Age (maybe the Scrat concept is an influence here?) and Alvin & The Chipmunks. And just who are Illumination Entertainment? Anyway, one of their upcoming movies is the Easter bunny movie Hop.
Meanwhile, another film reviewer went ahead and said what I didn't quite dare say:
I’m still considering whether I’m ready to blaspheme... No, wait: I’m coming to a decision... Yes, I shall blaspheme: Despicable Me is better than Toy Story 3. There. I said it.