‘Megamind’ With Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt Barely Wins Animated Fight

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Average: 4 (2 votes)
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Being a super-villain is apparently going out of style as “Megamind” follows relatively quickly on the heels of “Despicable Me” and both tell the story of a bad guy realizing that it’s more fun to be good. The title character of “Megamind” (Will Ferrell) is a nefarious super-powered fellow who has just barely lost every fight he’s had with the beloved Metroman (Brad Pitt). It seems appropriate that the film about them is also a marginal affair in which the good just barely outweighs the bad.

Stellar voice talent goes a long way in overcoming what is essentially a pretty lackluster script hampered even further by mediocre character and environment design. To put it another way, “Megamind” doesn’t have that memorable a story and isn’t as visually creative as it should be but you can’t find actors much better at this kind of material than Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and David Cross.

Megamind
Megamind
Photo credit: Dreamworks Pictures

The opening act details the history of Megamind and Metroman, life-long nemeses sent to Earth in a sequence that clearly parodies the opening act of “Superman.” Through what is essentially luck, the perfectly-coifed, good-looking guy becomes the superhero and the ugly, blue, bald dude becomes the super-villain. On the occasion of the opening of the Metroman Museum in the center of Metro City, Megamind stages yet another kidnapping of the beautiful Roxie (Tina Fey) in an attempt to lure Metroman into another trap. To everyone’s surprise, his plan finally works and Metroman ends up dead.

After taking over the city and wreaking cartoonish havoc with his pal Minion (David Cross), Megamind realizes that a villain without a hero is a yin without a yang. He decides to try and create a hero to complete him and bring meaning to his life again. Using a bit of Metroman’s remaining DNA, he accidentally infuses superhero powers into a slob of a cameraman named Hal (Jonah Hill), turning him into Titan. Of course, Megamind learns that the definition of hero or villain can’t just be placed on someone. It’s about what’s inside.

Ferrell and Fey are simply spectacular with two of the best animated vocal performances of the year. Ferrell imbues Megamind with a bizarre and yet memorable accent that sometimes sounds British but mostly just sounds weird – he pronounces Metro City as if it were one word that rhymes with velocity – and it’s a perfect choice for the character. Fey doesn’t have as many good lines but she’s remarkably believable and entertaining. Hill and Cross have memorable enough voices that they can do this kind of thing in their sleep. The voice cast is easily the best thing about “Megamind.”

Megamind
Megamind
Photo credit: Dreamworks Pictures

Sadly, the script and look of the film aren’t nearly as interesting. There’s really not a lot to “Megamind.” I kept waiting for the story to take a turn I wasn’t expecting or even present a sequence that felt inspired instead of predictable. We’ve seen this kind of material before and done better. When a film reminds one of a great work like “The Incredibles,” it sets a high bar of comparison that “Megamind” gets nowhere near.

And allow me to sound like an old man for one second – why do so many modern animated films feel like the speed has been turned up on the projector? Slow down. Catch your breath. I know there’s no reason to look for realistic vocal patterns in an animated movie like this one but does everyone have to talk like they’re trying to break a record for the most dialogue in an animated film? It’s like the entire project is speeding to the finish line, probably keenly aware that kids won’t sit through animated films that are too long but making a movie that seems erratic and haphazard simply due to its breakneck speed.

Megamind
Megamind
Photo credit: Dreamworks Pictures

As for the 3D, it’s not as oppressive as some 2010 films but it does feel like it was too often used as a crutch. I wonder if the film wasn’t developed with 3D in mind if Metro City might have felt more alive instead of just “deep” or “big.” There are a few sequences that seem clearly designed with 3D in mind and I’m getting real tired of films in which an available tool dictates creativity instead of, well, things like characters, story, or plot.

I must admit that I was eventually entertained by “Megamind.” I gave into the fact that I knew where the story was going and that my disappointment with the completely dull design of the location of Metro City and lack of clever dialogue wasn’t going to change and simply enjoyed the film for what Ferrell, Fey, Cross, and Hill offered. It’s not so much that I “liked it” as just succumbed to it. Like its characters discover, sometimes good and bad aren’t so clearly defined. There’s a huge gray area in between. And that’s where you’ll find “Megamind.”

‘Megamind’ stars Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross, and Brad Pitt. It was written by Alan J. Schoolcraft & Brent Simons and directed by Tom McGrath. It opens on November 5th, 2010. It is rated PG.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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