MEGAMIND is a sophisticated story told with a droll, unpretentious air. The humor is broad, the philosophy subtle, and the animation is strictly for fun. The result is a film that kids can grow up with, and that adults can use to relive the best days of childlike innocence.
The titular character, voiced with a nod to great movie villains of the 30s and 40s by Will Ferrell, is a weedy, blue-skinned humanoid with pronunciation issues from another planet sent to Earth as a baby with only a fish, Minion (David Cross), and a binky for company. A life-long rivalry ensues when, en route to Earth, he encounters the future Metro Man (Brad Pitt), who, being the baby with all the luck, lands under the Christmas tree of a rich and childless couple. Megamind, too, finds a home, at the Metro City Prison for the Criminally Gifted. An oversized, bald cranium, an unerring ability to create chaos from brilliant ideas and good intentions, plus always being picked last for sports in school, spurs Megamind into a life of villainy with Metro Man, human-like with super powers and great hair, as his sworn nemesis.
A few decades later, Metro Man, who in addition to being able to fly and having that cool invulnerable thing going for him, can also juggle babies and walk on water, is having a museum dedicated to him. Megamind, on the other hand, is still stewing in his own juices. Hes also in a rut, as evidenced by the way Roxie Ritchie (Tina Fey), crack television reporter and reportedly Metro Mans girlfriend, reacts to once again being kidnapped by Megamind. Shes not terrified, shes not even much interested by the familiar round of threats and taunts tossed her way, the which she ticks off by rote. She and Megamind are both going through the motions until something odd happens. The usual scenario of Megamind being bested once again by Metro Man goes awry. Metro Man is suddenly out of the picture due to a freak win by Megamind, leaving the blue-skinned also-ran in charge, indulging every whim as he lords it over Metro City with no opposition. And thats the problem. With no nemesis, the spice has definitely gone out of Megaminds life, spurring him to his most daring evil scheme ever, one involving Metro Mans dandruff (shocking that he has any), a diabolical twisting of science in ways nature never intended, and Megaminds usual ability to find the single worst way to accomplish any evil scheme.
This is a surprisingly gentle story about nature versus nurture, long on charm, short on raucous laughs. Its not an indictment, just an observation about a film that is going for the heart by way of the funny bone. The characters are as sharply, ahem, drawn as in any other well-written, character-driven study. One in which superhuman feats of strength, courage, villainy, and amour are the delivery system. Particularly Megaminds discovery of what hes been missing all his life while masquerading as Bernard (Ben Stiller) a nerdy but cute human, has a real poignancy, as does the way Hal (Jonah Hill), Roxies uber-geek of a cameraman, pines for her without an ability to string words together in a meaningful, or even coherent, way. The twist of what happens when Roxie suddenly seems to be within his romantic grasp is one of the films smartest moves. The only lightweight comes in the form of Metro Man, square-jawed and full of his super-good self. The animation, slickly evoking the best of sleek 50s-style futurism, replete with pointy buildings and an engaging army of brain-bots, amplifies the action while never getting in the way of the storytelling. It finds odd bits of humanity even in such unlikely places as Minions multi-finned emotional outbursts, the way he spins, droops, or flicks a bobbling bit of feeler from atop his water-helmeted robot excursion vehicle is staggeringly effective.
A tale of existential angst suitable for children. Also suitable for adults not ordinarily concerned with bringing esoteric philosophical conundrums into everyday life, MEGAMIND, is an unexpectedly, marvelously serious comedy.