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‘Megamind’ is no ‘Despicable Me’

'Megamind' Pitchforks: 2.5 out of 5 Starring: Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey Rating: PG Opens: Nov. 5

A few months ago animated comedy “Despicable Me” from Universal Studios and Illumination Entertainment opened in theaters. The film was about a diabolical super villain, Mr. Gru, and his expeditions of evil and fatherhood.

Now open in theaters is DreamWorks’ “Megamind,” another animated comedy where the villain is allowed the opportunity to be the protagonist. In “Despicable Me,” Gru had no superhero to face, making it easy for him to reek havoc. Megamind, on the other hand, is confronted with a super adversary the day he arrives on earth.

Provided with the energetic voice of Will Ferrell, Megamind is a blue alien with a noggin that could rival that of the Red Queen’s in “Alice in Wonderland.” He is only an infant when his home planet is sucked into a black hole and his parents send him to earth. Little Megamind starts off trying to win the affection of earth’s inhabitants. But he is always one-upped by another young otherworldly boy.

This other alien grows up to be Metro Man, a chisel-jawed Superman voiced by Brad Pitt. With the hero role filled, Megamind assumes the villain position. Along with his fish Minion, voiced by David Cross, he engages in a never-ending war with Metro Man to claim Metro City.

Among the citizens of Metro City are a plucky, Lois Lane-like reporter named Roxanne Ritchi, voiced by Tina Fey, and her chubby, ginger haired cameraman named Tighten, voiced by Jonah Hill. Roxanne is constantly finding herself in the middle of Metro Man and Megamind’s quarrels. This happens so often, she doesn’t even cringe when Megamind kidnaps her and unleashes his alligators and death ray. Everything has become routine.

Matters change when Megamind actually succeeds in destroying Metro Man, leaving nothing behind but his cape and skeleton.

This is a promising premise for a satire that follows the age-old question, “What would happen in the coyote caught the roadrunner?” Unfortunately once Metro Man is defeated, the film quickly runs out of things for Megamind to do.

With nobody to challenge Megamind, he goes about the city stealing from banks and littering. After a while though, he starts to miss the thrill he got from battling his old nemesis. He wishes Metro Man were still around to provide that missing action and so does the audience.

“Megamind” is beautifully animated, creating a dazzling city of mounting skyscrapers that are wonderful to look at in 2D or 3D. There are great voiceover performances all around. But where  “Megamind” lacks is in the joke department, missing many chances to poke fun at the superhero genre.

The film does provide some occasional clever in jokes such as a reference to Marlon Brando’s role in the original “Superman.” But most of the film feels like it’s on autopilot and provides few laugh out loud moments at all.

The high point of the movie is the relationship that blossoms between Megamind and Roxanne Ritchi. There’s a surprising sweetness to their romance, although I don’t want to even think about what their offspring would look like. DreamWorks Animation Studios has been known for this role reversal scenario in which an unlikely being saves the day and gets the girl, most notably the “Shrek” films.

While “Megamind” has the craft and talent to make an A-list animated film, it doesn’t have the wit or inspiration of the best contemporary animated features. It’s not a film I can quite recommend for older audiences to see. But if you parents give into your children’s demands to see “Megamind” this holiday season, chances are they won’t be disappointed.

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