A Villain as all Others
Lucas Giannetti says in his book Understanding Movies that "Since ancient times, critics have discussed art as having a double function: to teach and to provide pleasure" (Giannetti 403). Most children’s movies attempt to something to children by sending a message, however most times these messages tend to be cliché messages, such as save the environment, true love and not giving up. In “Despicable Me” there are some cliché messages. One cliché message depicted in this movie is that love conquers all. Gru was a villain who had never received any love, but when he adopts three orphan girls and they give him love, he changes and becomes a good person. Another cliché message is that good always wins over bad. After Gru becomes good, Vector is the villain of the movie and he ends up stranded in the moon and was not able to accomplish his goal of stealing the moon. A third cliché message portrayed is that villains are bad for a reason, usually being mistreated or having a lack of love in their childhood, as is the case with Gru and Vector. Giannetti mentions in his book "Villains and other repellent characters are often played by actors who are made to look unattractive" (Giannetti 406). Another cliché that can be observed in this movie is that villains are typically displayed as unattractive, rough voice and portraying dark colors. Giannetti also says "Good looks and sex appeal are compelling traits, predisposing us in favor of a given character" (Giannetti 406) which is a common problematic message in children’s movies, because most protagonists are skinny and attractive, so since kids we are taught that it is more socially acceptable to be that way. This movie however does a good job in escaping that cliché. But what it uses to appeal the audience to the main characters is, as mentioned in Understanding Movies "Emotionally vulnerable characters appeal to our protective instincts" (Giannetii 406). The three little girls are emotionally vulnerable so the audience feels sorry for them. This is an argument of pathos because it uses the audience’s emotions to convince them to like the girls.
Furthermore, Despicable Me contains problematic a problematic or negative message which is that being bad is not so bad. In the movie Gru and Vector never actually get a punishment such as going to jail for being criminals and stealing things. Vector indeed had a huge luxurious home, which could indicate that being corrupt is a way of making a fortune. Another problematic message is contained in the lyrics of the song “I'm having a bad, bad day. It's about time that I get my way, Steamrolling whatever I see. Huh, despicable me.” It is not good that they teach kids that if they are having a bad day they can just steamroll everything. Furthermore, the movie contains implied or not so obvious messages. One such message is that being cruel to children is wrong, which is a positive message.
I believe that the negative messages of this movie outweigh the positive. There are more negative than positive messages and the few positive messages that it teaches are not memorable and significant enough to outweigh the negative. Love conquers all is a very cliché theme that most people already know. Therefore, I give this movie a rating of two because it does not really teach anything memorable or significant.