As the lights were dimming before a preview screening of Despicable Me, the 6-year-old who lives in my house leaned over and said, "I hope this is funny—not like Toy Story 3." Now don't misunderstand: He adored that movie. It's just that whenever the subject comes up, the first word he uses to describe the final adventures of Woody and Buzz is "sad." "Scary," too, when further pressed. But "funny"? Not once in a month's time. So, then, to the movie featuring fart guns, shrink rays, and squid shooters! Despicable Me is a silly antidote to Toy Story 3's thoughtful heaviness—a cavalcade of kiddie giggles, titters, and belly laughs with as much heft as helium. It's rather joyful and heartfelt, too—a summertime, air-conditioned Grinch, this is the story of a wannabe evil genius (Gru, voiced by Steve Carell) who learns that buried beneath his heft and hefty Mommy issues is a heart large enough to find room for three orphaned girls. To that, add countless yellow, pill-shaped, one- or two-eyed "minions" who provide comic relief enough to fuel a surefire spinoff on Nickelodeon. Despicable Me is also one of the rare instances in the recent history of 3-D's resurrection as The Savior of Cinema in which the technology accentuates the experience. Though, grown-ups, be warned: I had more fun watching the kid giggle through the screening than I did watching the movie itself. It's no Toy Story 3.
Carells Gru towers over his minions.
Opens at Metro and other theaters, Fri., July 9. Rated PG. 88 minutes.