by Tim Ross
“Megamind” will be a mega-hit. It has all of the ingredients for today’s moviegoers. The script is smart, funny, loaded with layers of jokes for all ages and it’s in 3-D. The latest offering from Dreamworks also has star power with Will Ferrell and Brad Pitt facing off for the love of Tina Fey and the possession of Metro City.
Ferrell, who voices Megamind, inhabits the character in perhaps a more textured and nuanced performance than he has ever given in his live action roles. Pitt plays Metro Man, the superhero who battles him.
Both “men” were saved by their alien parents by being rocketed off a dying planet to land on Earth. They were destined to be arch foes for life but that premise is turned on its head in a delightful departure from formula; although saying anything more would spoil the plot.
Megamind and Metro Man are joined by the need for good to fight evil. They are the Yin to each other’s Yang, the flip side of each other’s coin. They need each other as much as they appear to hate each other.
The film is fueled by this relationship until the arch-enemies encounter something unexpected – when a third character enters the battle in the form of Titan (Jonah Hill), even more surprises are in store.
It’s then that the good vs evil theme moves into background. Up front is Megamind’s increasingly obvious adoration for reporter Roxanne Ritchi (Fey) and how his affection for her adds to a growing confusion on how best to use his newfound power. At its core, this is a coming of age story about a complex character.
Megamind’s transformation is poignant, authentic and stirring. That kind of storytelling provides a base for real comedy, not the cheap jokes sometimes found in animated films. Every character is as three dimensional as the visual effects.
Speaking of the 3-D effects, I have written about several 3-D movies lately and Hollywood will continue to move in that direction, so I’ll say this about the technology: Filmmakers have yet to create stories that lend themselves to 3-D effects in an effortless way. It was easy to spot moments that were written especially for 3-D technology whether it moved the story along or not. That is my only continued caution with the new wave of 3-D films.
For the most part, however, the plot in “Megamind” clips along at a satisfying pace and it reaches a conclusion that leaves not one aspect of the story behind, even if one character’s fate left me shaking my head.
A quick glance at the production credits reveals over 200 names of animators, scenic designers, production supervisors, lighting designers and many, many more artists. What makes “Megamind” such a solid film is all of those people seemed to be on the same animated page over and over.
The film is so fluid, so visually detailed and so consistent that it must have taken a very steady leader to bring it all together. I will bestow that honor on director Tom McGrath. McGrath cut his directorial teeth with “The Ren & Stimpy Show” 15 years ago and has since built a track record of visually detailed, rich storytelling in films such as the “Madagascar” series.
Perhaps more importantly, McGrath has also played a character in many of these films and his knowledge as a voice actor is put to its full use in “Megamind.”
The voices of this film blend beautifully, they add to their animated characters as opposed to rising above them as “star” voices. You never think of Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey or Jonah Hill. The characters and the voices are melded and the pace, delivery and nuance is present in each voice throughout the story. As a person who works in radio and voiceovers, it was the most delightful aspect of this thoroughly enjoyable film.
My very minor nitpick is that the fate of Titan is out of sync with the rest of the story. I watched the film wind down with a big smile on my face and then took a double take when it came to Titan’s fate, but that slightly negative moment came in the last minute of the film.
Until then you will laugh, groan and spend over an hour and a half marveling at the incredible attention to detail, tight, funny writing and true voice talents of some of Hollywood’s best comedians. “Megamind” is sure to be mega-fun for you and just about any age child you bring with you.
Grade: 3.5/4 Stars