Finally, the word "despicable" has come back into common parlance! Years of watered-down Daffy Duck cartoons had us worried, but the popularity of the new animated film Despicable Me should get kids calling each other by this polysyllable in no time. Because if the box office is any indication, a lot of kids saw it -- the Universal movie made $60 million over the weekend, which more or less ties it with Kung Fu Panda for the biggest opening for a non-Pixar, non-sequel animated film. By comparison, fellow new release Predators only made $25 million, taking the #3 spot, and repeat earners Eclipse and Toy Story 3 took the #2 and #4 spots, respectively -- all sequels, by the way. How did a movie without a built-in fan base dominate the charts? Here are a few theories.
1. Accents, Accents, Accents
If there's one thing kids love, it's a funny accent. Ratatouille, Madagascar and Finding Nemo all feature foreign supporting characters, and Shrek squoze four movies out of just being Scottish, with an assist from Puss in Boots. Steve Carell gives Gru his quasi-Russian accent (a tried-and-true classic since the G.I. Joe days), and while it gets old by the end of the movie, you also learn to recognize and love the little quirks that Carell puts into his dialect, which makes it more entertaining than the entirety of Get Smart.
2. It Has a Pixar Pedigree
Some of the most interesting things about the movie are the character designs. From Gru's penguin-like appearance to the blocky bank manager Mr. Perkins, the world of Despicable is populated by all shapes and sizes, and they're all courtesy of character designer Carter Goodrich, who designed the characters for Pixar's Ratatouille, and also worked in the art department on Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc.. So Pixar is in the movie's DNA, which explains its genetic predisposition to making money.
3. It's Made for a Girl and a Boy
While the dueling supervillain concept is clearly made for rocket-and-laser-gun loving young boys, the plot is gender-balanced by the presence of three little girls in the central roles of three orphans who unwittingly aid Gru in his evil schemes. The accompanying excess of unicorn humor ("It's so FLUFFY!") sealed the deal.
4. It Caused Minion Mania
Those little yellow minions of Gru's are pretty frickin' adorable. Whether tall and skinny or short and fat, one-eyed or two-eyed, their babbling language, their Three Stooges antics, their wacky disguises and their ability to light up like glowsticks made for some pretty hilarious sight gags, so it's no wonder they were at the forefront of the marketing push. Expect plush sales to go through the roof.
5. It Had Double Secret Commercials
If you're confusing this movie with the one where Will Ferrell plays an animated supervillain, you're probably thinking of MegaMind, which comes out in November. Having trailers for a second supervillain movie in front of all of the biggest animated hits this year (How to Train Your Dragon, Shrek Forever After, Toy Story 3) couldn't have hurt Despicable Me when it came to getting kids in the mood for villainy.
6. It Invaded IHOP
The movie was endlessly promoted, with plugs on The Biggest Loser, NCIS and Last Comic Standing. But the big score may have been getting onto the menu at the International House of Pancakes, with special dishes Cinniminions, Minionade, Minion Taters and Minion Berry Pancakes. We don't know how well the mostly bluish food has been selling, but it seriously made us reconsider getting our usual, the Rooty Tooty Fresh 'N Fruity.
Honorable Mention: It Also Lured in Comedy Nerds
While we doubt little kids cared, the movie also had an amazing voice cast of comedians, including Jason Segel, Will Arnett, Julie Andrews, Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig, Danny McBride, Jack McBrayer, Ken Jeong, Mindy Kaling, Jemaine Clement and Rob Huebel. It probably didn't help the box office that much, but it certainly didn't hurt our enjoyment.
Did you see Despicable Me? Let us know what you thought below, then see our list of the most despicable animated villains!
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