Thankfully utilizing Carell’s easy charms, masked behind an SNL-esque Russian accent, the character still manages to be likable even when he’s imagining ways to rid himself of three adorable orphans. The rest of the cast, most having worked together on other projects, also seem to be having more fun reassembled than could ever be said about anyone involved with another recent film.
The likes of Ken Jeong, Kristen Wiig, Danny McBride, Julie Andrews, Jemaine Clement, Mindy Kaling, and Jack MacBrayer are almost completely wasted by having them do silly voices so you can’t even tell it’s them or cutting their scenes. Even more extreme, some of their characters are completely altered from their IMDb credits (MacBrayer particularly), but the film still moves along nicely for a breezy 88 minutes even if there does seem to be a bit of padding. It’s just weird to watch an animated feature with as many montages as this one. Given how much time and effort and money goes into these types of films, you can’t help but long for perfection even if just on a technical aspect but that’s a big storytelling issue, especially when the film is so short.
While it’s doubtful to reach the kind of success that Toy Story 3, Shrek 4, or even How to Train Your Dragon have found, there’s still plenty of big laughs not limited to one of the funniest Santa Claus jokes ever and of course Gru’s minions (who come across like nicer versions of Mogwais prior to getting wet) manage to steal the whole show. And how could I personally not find some kind of affection for a film when it features a giant indoor shark aquarium? It may not be as big a feat as Toy Story 3 but it’s still a far better effort than the hopefully final Shrek installment and for some that may be all they need to know.
Photo courtesy Universal Pictures