Movie Mom

Movie Mom


posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for action and some language
Profanity:Some crude schoolyard language
Violence/Scariness:Sci-fi and fantasy violence and destruction, apparent death of a character, skeleton
Diversity Issues:A theme of the movie
Movie Release Date:November 5, 2010
DVD Release Date:February 22, 2011

Let’s get it out of the way first thing. “Megamind” would be a much more enjoyable experience if it wasn’t so close to one of this year’s brightest family pleasures, Despicable Me. Both are stories of the clash of two mega-villains that turn an anti-hero into a lovable guy. Both lead characters suffer because they were not loved and made to feel a source of pride as children. The sidekicks even have the same name.  Megamind has to battle “Despicable Me’s” Gru for the affection of audiences.

It isn’t as good — and it owes a little bit to the incomparable “The Incredibles,” too. But on its own terms it is still a lot of fun and one of the best in a year of spectacular animated features.

Megamind (voice of Will Ferrell) came to earth as a little baby with a big, blue head sent here by rocket before his planet exploded. But at the same time, another set of parents was shooting off their baby towards earth. Megamind’s rocket landed in a prison and he had a childhood of abuse, bullying, and deprivation while his rival was the handsome, charming, popular kid in school who would grow up to be a superhero known as Metro Man (the very manly voice of Brad Pitt).  Megamind decided that if he couldn’t be the best at being good, he’d be the best at being bad.

All goes pretty well until Metro Man is suddenly out of the picture. Without a worthy adversary, Megamind has something of an existential crisis. His brilliant solution is to create a new hero so he have someone to compete with. But that doesn’t go according to plan and Megamind finds himself having to save the day.

Those who are familiar with superhero lore will appreciate the tributes to the Superman origin story and Lois Lane-style intrepid female reporter. There are some references to Cyrano de Bergerac as well; it’s not a coincidence that the female lead is named Roxanne (voice of Tina Fey). It is clever without being snarky, and avoids over-doing the usual pop culture references and air quotes. I especially like the way that the emotions and reactions of the main characters, Megamind, Roxanne, and the new nemesis are very relatable for elementary school kids while giving them something to stretch for with references to Tesla coils and existential discussions and a plot with a couple of extra twists. And Roxanne is far from the usual damsel in distress. “Can someone stamp my frequent kidnapping card?” she asks dryly. “You of all people should know we discontinued that promotion,” Megamind replies. She likes him, not because he’s dangerous, but because she can see how much he really wants to be good. And when he’s bad, he’s very, very bad, but when he’s good, he’s even better.

  • Mad Mom

    There was no need for the comments about the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. We are going to be doing some damage control around here. We did not know before we went to the movie.

  • Nell Minow

    A very good point, Mad Mom — I will put an alert in the review.

  • Sharbo

    Ridiculous comment in a children’s film. Good thing my five year old niece fell asleep just before he yells that there is no tooth fairy or easter bunny. My niece is very sharp, but this movie was way over her head.

  • jennifer

    This is a PG movie people! If your kids are still young enough to believe in the tooth fairy, you should not have taken them to see it.

  • Kirsten

    Really thoughtless of a children’s movie to put in there is no tooth fairy or Easter Bunny. This is probably the last year my kids will have the magic of Santa. The darn movie ruined it. I am livid.
    Jennifer, PG 13 is for guidance under the age of 13. It is a kids movie. My kids are 10 and 8, the movie is for them.
    Shame on Pixar.

  • Nell Minow

    I am sorry, Kristen. I hope that hearing this said by a comic villain will not persuade your kids that they do not exist. Generally, no matter what they hear at school or anywhere else, kids hold on to those ideas until they are ready to let them go. This movie is rated PG and that means it is supposed to be all right for school-age kids. I did note in my review that this might be a concern for parents.
    Just one more note: this movie is NOT from Pixar. It is from Dreamworks.

  • Kirsten

    Thanks Nell, I was thinking after I posted Pixar that was wrong. I didn’t look up reviews until after we saw the movie. Your review is the only one warning parents, so thank you.

  • letin1

    We just got back from watching the movie. We loved it. My 10 and 7 year old were laughing like crazy. My husband and I enjoyed it very much. It’s a great movie. Loved the Superman bit. It was hilarious. Mostly the parents got it. A little girl next to me asked her friend,”What’s so funny about this scene?” I felt old at that moment but still enjoyed it.
    I will recommend this movie to all my friends.

  • Nell Minow

    I’m planning to see it again, letin1! And I like movies that make kids stretch and think a little to try to understand why the grown-ups are laughing. Thanks for a great comment.

  • grok

    Just saw this with my 3 kids, 12, 10, and 5. They liked it ok. I wasn’t that impressed. To me the movie was slow and dreary. I was hoping for something fun and fast paced like The Incredibles. My 5 year old kept asking me- “why is he sad?”, “why is she sad?”. Why indeed! Why can’t they make fun kids movies anymore…

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, grok — “Tangled” is a lot of fun and it opens next week.

  • Twin Mom

    My 11-year-old had the BIGGEST laugh about the moms being angry about the “holiday magical creatures” spoiler. Then he asked me (jokingly), “There’s still a Santa, right?” and I pretended to get choked up and cry because he might not still believe. We had a good laugh!

  • Nell Minow

    Great comment, Twin Mom! Your son is terrific!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment James

    Personally, I believe in honesty with my kids and do not shy from the truth (kids can handle more than some think). When my brother died while serving, I told my children that he was killed (obviously you don’t have to give details that they are not ready for) and took that as a chance to remind them that weapons hurt more than just the person on the receiving end and that I do not approve of war because I’ve seen how ugly it is.

    I’ve NEVER perpetuated the lie about the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, etc, although I leave it up to the parents to come clean on that one (and tell my kids to never talk about it with other kids). Having said that, in the same breath, Titan says there is no Queen of England. So COME ON PEOPLE! It was a joke!

    If you are the kind of parent who has those things because it makes the kids happy and you happy, great (I’m fine with that, I just don’t do that myself… we all parent in our own, unique ways and so long as you’re not abusing/harming the kid…), laugh with that line and say, “Honey, he also said there is no Queen of England and I can show you video footage of her!”

    Honestly, I liked Despicable Me, but this was better. This movie was a lot more complex, with a lot more symbolism, life lessons, adult humor, and metaphors (as well as clearly pointing to things in real life). I was not as big a fan of the Incredibles, though… sorry Nell.

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