Movie Monday: Despicable Me


despicable.JPGDastardly Gru may have struggled in his quest to become the world’s No. 1 supervillian. But he had no trouble at all propelling his film, Despicable Me, to the top of the box office this weekend. Universal’s new animated effort earned more than $60 million and booted The Twilight Saga: Eclipse off the weekend’s top rung—though Bella, Edward, Jacob et al still managed to howl up $33.4 million. The R-rated Predators stalked into third place with $25.3 million.

So, with Despicable Me‘s oversized victory—it made far more than most industry analysts expected—is it time to declare 2010 as a landmark year for family film? According to Box Office Mojo, G- or PG-rated films have topped the box-office tally for 11 of the last 17 weeks. And for the year, two Disney flicks—Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland—hold the year’s top two slots.

Here’s the kicker: These family films have been, overall, pretty good. I don’t think animated movies have ever been so sophisticated, and more and more filmmakers seem to understand that good, relevant stories can be told within the confines of a G or PG rating.

Sometimes, I think Christians can bemoan the state of the culture we live in. “MacGruber!” We gasp. “True Blood! Eminem! What’s the world coming to?” Truth is, though, there’s some awfully good stuff knocking around out there. Moreover, it’s making money—which means we’re likely to see this welcome trend continue. And there’s nothing at all despicable about that.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  stevmm:

I credit Pixar with a lot of this success. As other animation studios were trying to introduce edgier content in order to attract people (see: Shrek) they instead focused on telling powerful and moving stories with interesting characters. The thought for a very long time has been that if you wanted to keep adults entertained while watching kiddie fare you needed to throw jokes over the kids heads. (see: the Muppets)

I think Dreamworks is catching on. How to Train Your Dragon didn't stoop to Shrek-like levels, and was (IMHO) a powerful and moving story.

Look at some of the filmmakers really making waves these days. Christopher Nolan. While his fare isn't quite family friendly, here's a filmmaker who tackles rough subjects without stooping to graphic gore, graphic sex, graphic language.

Which is not to say that the edgier content isn't still out there, and still getting watched. Predators is, by all reports, ultra-violent and treats life pretty cavalierly. But with content like that getting edged out in the box office by family-friendly treats... how long will it keep coming back for more?

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  McMurreysGirl:

I have been exceedingly happy about this turn of events. My husband and I were beginning to think that there would come a time when ANY new movie would be something we wouldn't feel comfortable watching. You're right, though, all the money that these [really good] family films are making will probably generate something new in the film-making industry - *gasp* quality entertainment! It's become sufficiently obvious that filmmakers who consistently appeal to the lowest common denominator have lost their edge. It was bound to happen.