Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, Brad Pitt, David Cross, Justin Theroux. Music by Lorne Balfe, Hans Zimmer. Screenplay by Alan J. Schoolcraft, Brent Simons. Directed by Tom McGrath. 95 minutes.
It's easy to write about terrific films. It's even easier – and lots of fun most of the time – to write about terrible movies. The hardest flicks to cover are the ones in the middle, movies that offer nothing bright or new, but are serviceable and entertaining nonetheless. How do you talk about okay-but-nothing-special movies without producing a review that is okay-but-nothing-special?
The prospect of trying to craft an interesting essay on the computer-animated comedy Megamind has given me a headache. Let me establish right up front that the movie is fine – good performances from the talented voice cast, nicely-detailed artwork, a zippy pace and numerous amusing moments. While there is little about the movie that stands out, it's certainly competent.
Megamind deals with a super-villain (voiced by Will Ferrell) perpetually at war with chiseled-jaw super hero Metro Man (Brad Pitt). On the periphery of their battles is TV reporter Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey) and her slobbish cameraman Hal (Jonah Hill). After Megamind manages to win his war with Metro Man, he grows bored and despondent, eventually giving superpowers to Hal in an attempt to create a new superhero to fight. But Hal (dubbed Titan in his new guise) turns out to be a lot nastier than Megamind, which forces the villain to consider turning over a new leaf.
The film is visually and thematically reminiscent of The Incredibles and Despicable Me and offers nothing particularly interesting or original, which is no sin, but you'll have to decide whether competent-but-average is good enough to warrant buying a ticket.
Oh man, this review feels more competent-but-average by the sentence.
Will Ferrell is fine as Megamind. I'm burned out on the performer right now, but still found him effective in this context. Brad Pitt nails the heroic, full-of-himself Metro Man – it's a shame he isn't in the film very long. As the plucky Lois Lane figure, Tina Fey gets the job done, but I missed the touch of subversiveness I usually hear in her voice. As the slacker-turned-super-lout, Jonah Hill certainly gets the job done. I didn't like him as Hal the cameraman and I couldn't stand him as the thuggish Titan. I mean really – every time he appeared on-screen I cringed.
The film is more amusing than funny, although a number of the gags pay off. Vintage heavy metal anthems are well used. Borderline trite, but they work. The folks from Dreamworks deserve a gold star for not burying the movie in pop culture references. Clearly, they have their sights set on the timelessness of The Incredibles rather than the already-dated hipness of Shrek.
Which brings me back to where I started. Megamind is fine. A solid Grade C. Maybe even a C+. If only the filmmakers could have found a way to elevate the material they were given. You know, like I didn't do here.