Despicable Me is an adorable story of a super-villain, striving for world domination, who is changed into a kind hearted hero after he adopts three adorable little girls as part of an evil. Despicable Me is said to have many underlying ideas, both positive and negative. Though these underlying themses are all recognizable, I find Despicable Me to be a very endearing story with an extremely positive theme that sheds light on a big issue in America.
The negative underlying idea found in Despicable Me is very common and almost a trite idea in the children’s genre. This idea is the equation of extremely intelligent to evil. This is shown very obviously by antagonist of the film, a very quirky and genius villain, Vector. The film shows him as being highly intellectual by the name they give him, “I'm applying for a villain loan. I go by the name of Vector. It's a mathematical term, represented by an arrow with both direction and magnitude. Vector! That's me, because I commit crimes with both direction and magnitude.” Vector is a term used in Physics and Calculus, which clearly equates him to genius while his plan to dominate the world shows his evil. The other way the film accredits evil to intelligence is through the main character, Gru. Gru is also a villain, who is also a genius. The film shows Gru from a young age aspiring to be an astronaut, and even at age ten was able to make prototypes of rockets, and then actually create those rockets. Both prototypes and rockets are very difficult to make and require an extreme amount knowledge and smarts. In essence, considering both of the evil characters of the story are also afflicted with brilliance, the children might take away the same idea.
But though the negative theme is easier to spot, the positive idea found in Despicable Me clearly wins out. The positive theme is also much less common but it is a very prevalent issue. In America there are over 100,000 children in foster care (adoptuskids.org). Despicable Me is an argument for adoption of children in foster care, especially in America. This positive argument is that adoption is a beautiful thing, and can bring many unexpected joys, and happiness to all parties involved. Gru starts the film as an evil villain whose only want is to steal the moon. As part of a plot to steal a shrink ray from his competition, Vector, Gru adopts three little girls from foster care. In the beginning Gru is clearly only using the girls, and plans to return them after they do their unknowing part. But as the story grows, Gru unexpectedly and very rapidly forms a clear bond with the little girls and truly begins to love them. He is playing dolls, and having tea parties with them, and is starting to become cheerful and encouraging and good and lose his evil wants. But as Gru begins to become happy from being a father to his “little kittens”, he unfocussed on his evil plot, and so the girls are returned. Not much longer after, Gru is stealing the moon, something that he has dreamed of since he was a little boy, yet he is again unhappy. He realizes that now, his happiness lies in his adopted daughter’s happiness. Not even his lifelong dream can bring him the joy that being an adoptive father can bring him. He even goes as far as to say that his “Three little kittens, changed his heart.” Adoption is not always considered as an option for American families, but Despicable Me is able to show the joys and betterment it can bring for both the orphans and the families who take them in as their own. It is truly endearing, and really brings a good light to an underpublicized issue. “Cinema can be a powerful source of moral persuasion” (Giannetti 4). The film brings awareness and being a film has innate power of persuasion. Though it is a children’s film, children cannot see it without their parents and the parents are the ones who would adopt. Despicable Me exemplifies to those parents that adoption can bring such happiness, and America needs more of it: adoption and compassion.
The good awareness for adoption is also able to negate the idea that intelligence is evil. Gru, who is extremely brilliant, ends up being a goodhearted, kind, and still very intelligent father of three beautiful adopted daughters. Since Gru is changed by his new family, but is still a genius, Gru now equates goodness to intelligence.
I love it when good beats out evil (but don’t we all), and cute fathers daughter interactions, and I have also always planned to and thought very highly of adopting...so I have to give Despicable Me all five pickles.