Review: DreamWorks' Megamind is Forgettable Fun for Everyone
by Jeremy Kirk
November 5, 2010
It's odd to think that a film like Megamind, a film called Megamind, no less, would make the viewer feel they have a multitude of holes in their brain. Sure, the film is funny. Sure, the story is actually interesting and has honest to God messages deep rooted within it. Sure, the animation is very clean, about as clean as anything not from Pixar can be. But something happens after the viewer, one who has thoroughly enjoyed themselves, walks out of the movie theater after watching Megamind. While much of the imagery and a lot of the story mull around in their brain, the laughs, the force at the center of the movie, slip from memory, gone faster than a passing train in the night. If you want hearty laughs galore, you'll not be disappointed. If the next morning you want to remember what it was that made you laugh so heartily, best to look elsewhere.
As if ripped from the comic books, Megamind focuses on two, opposing forces. In one corner, we have Megamind, the nefarious, blue chrome domed super-villain of Metro City, who will stop at nothing to defeat his immortal foe. That foe is Metro Man, the standard, immaculately caped superhero with an awesome chin we've come to know and love. The two spend their days acting and reacting off one another, going about it in typical, comic book fashion.
That's just the build-up. Megamind's actual, driving narrative occurs once something changes this day-to-day course of actions, and Megamind finds himself one side of a coin that will never be flipped again. The film becomes a commentary, quite a good one at that, about the necessity of good and bad, light and dark. The central character here, though he is the commonplace villain, is at a loss in this world of free reign. He realizes that without an opposite, without someone to give him purpose in life, he has nothing.
Megamind also touches on the "don't judge a book by its cover" notion. Megamind is the villain of Metro City, but, as the film's opening moments show us, he was born and bred to be a super-villain. The film brushes against the idea of victims of circumstance without a batting of the eye, and it becomes easy to regard the titular character, the protagonist in a film where he is also the villain, as the hero.
In fact, Megamind, a movie released by DreamWorks Animation, does a better job teaching these messages of acceptance and purpose than any of the Shrek films that have come before it. These messages present themselves with absolute subtlety. There's no hammer driving the point into the brains of little children. A lot of them will likely not even notice the morale as it brisks by with a casual glance. Many of them will just want to see Megamind fall down, go boom, but, never fear, broad comedy is here.
The film, at its heart, is a comedy, and it is one that will make its audience laugh out loud all the way from beginning to end. It doesn't hurt that Will Ferrell voices the main character of the film. The presence of Tina Fey as the standard, comic book reporter who Megamind has an infatuation with doesn't hurt either. Nor does the inclusion of Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and David Cross in secondary roles. On the surface, it all might look like stunt casting. This is an easy belief considering the star power being used here for voice acting, the idea these actors were cast for the sole benefit of using their names on the poster. But the voices in Megamind work wonders for the characters, and Ferrell, hysterical as always, is able to project himself onto the animation-laden screen.
Unfortunately, excellently crafted messages and perfect voice casting aside (not to mention the wondrous animation being utilized that gives the film an epic tone in terms of scale), the engine that powers Megamind, its comedy, runs on hollow gags. They may make you giggle in your seat. The banter between Megamind and his sidekick, Minion, a fish in a bowl resting on the neck of a furry robot is the best humor the film has going for it. However, what is actually said as well as 90% of the jokes spread throughout the entire film is wiped clean from your memory very closely following you standing up from that seat in which you were just squirming from laughter. It's a flaw that can't be ignored even if there are so many other instances of greatness or very near greatness found elsewhere in the film. It can't be forgotten just how truly forgettable much of Megamind is.
At that point, it's best to focus on the positive, because memorable comedy or not, there is much that Megamind has to offer. It's an easy notion to pass any animated comedy off to the children, say something like, "Oh, but the kids will love it," when, clearly, the adults are screaming for the exits. That's not the case here. Megamind is an enjoyable film, one that has something to offer everyone in the audience. Sure, the children won't be privy to the messages it has, and a majority of the adults in the audience won't be howling with laughter at some of the pratfalls. Luckily, these elements of the film merge back and forth, and oil and water actually end up co-existing in the form of grand entertainment. Of course, the water evaporates on impact, but, while you're in the moment, it's a comfortable and delightful drink of water in which to enjoy.
Jeremy's Rating: 7 out of 10