Movie Review - Megamind (***)


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Megamind.  96 mins.  PG.  Directed by Tom McGrath.  Written by Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons.  Starring the Voices of Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross, and Brad Pitt.
Dreamworks enters the animated superhero fray with this, a sporadically amusing comedy that tells essentially the same story as this summer's Despicable Me minus the too-cutesy kids and silly Russian accents.  The vocal star power is impressive: Will Ferrell voices the delightfully evil, big-headed blue Megamind, Tina Fey is the Lois Lane-inspired Roxanne Ritchi, and Brad Pitt is heard briefly (very briefly) as Metro City's resident superhero, Metro Man.  Megamind is pleasant enough to watch, even if it is a tad overfamiliar and nearly chokes on the unimaginative selection of songs on its soundtrack.  "Bad to the Bone?"  Never heard that one before.  Michael Jackson's "Bad" - ha!  I get it.  Megamind is bad, so let's use a song about the word "bad."  How clever - but I digress.
The story?  Megamind and Metro Man have been rivals since first landing together on Earth as babies.  When Megamind finally rids himself of his enemy, he finds that being evil is awfully lonely when there's no hero to fight, so he turns the local cameraman (Jonah Hill) into a powerful superman named Tighten.  Too powerful, in fact, because Tighten quickly turns evil himself, and it's up to Megamind to stop him, save Metro City and win the heart of Roxanne.
The animation is great - bright and colorful, with a handful of exciting action set pieces.  Dreamworks has really come into its own as a reliable producer of quality family films.  Megamind may not have the storytelling magic of How to Train Your Dragon and it's light years away from Pixar's own superhero tale, The Incredibles, but I liked it much better than Despicable Me.  It could have benefitted from more laughs though, especially given the cast.  While Ferrell seems like the perfect choice to voice an animated villain, he comes across as being too tied to the script.  Why hire expert improvisers like Fey and Ferrell if you're not going to let them deviate from what's written?  The funniest bit comes from Ferrell riffing on Marlon Brando's performance in 1978's Superman.
Megamind may not be the kind of event film that demands to be seen in the theater, but parents, their kids, and comic book fans of all ages should find enough in it to like.  

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