Comic super villainy with a big heart

Mark O'Regan

With more than a shade of Austin Powers' nemesis Dr Evil here, funnyman Steve Carrell is the voice of evil villain Gru. A bit like the more adult Mike Myers creation, he's pretty lousy at his ambition of world domination. Even worse, he's getting on age-wise and he needs to up his dastardly game to keep up with a younger and smarter menace, Vector (Jason Segel).

Desperate to be back on top, he devises a madcap evil plan (aren't they all?) in which he'll steal the moon by shrinking it to the size of a dollar coin.

When a shrink ray vital to his plans is stolen by Vector, Gru must enlist the help of three orphaned girls, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher). His evil scheme involves getting them to sell cookies -- which are in fact robots designed by sidekick Dr Nefario (Russell Brand) -- to Vector at his lair.

Along the way, Gru begins to bond with the three girls, left with any parent's big dilemma -- steal the moon or attend their ballet concert?

There's enough laughs here to keep the kids happy, and even Gru's army of minions are cute in a Monster Inc kind of way for younger viewers. There's also the moral of the story, about good parenting, and we get to see Gru reconciled with his tough mother (Julie Andrews) as he learns there's more to life than villainy.

It's no Toy Story 3, but it took half a billion dollars at the box office despite its modest enough budget. And there's enough of a plot, and decent-looking graphics, to keep mum and dad amused, too.

DVD EXTRAS: Include a feature on the voices behind the characters, making-of featurettes and some interactive games.