There has always been something that feels ‘off’ about Despicable Me in my opinion. I have never been able to say exactly what it is, but viewed next to a Pixar movie or some other Dreamworks movies, something just isn’t right. It isn’t the animation or the story- I find it an enjoyable movie and watch it pretty regularly, it’s good fun and well written with funny characters and jokes. Then I realised the problem when I saw an interview with Steve Carell.
I randomly turned onto the kids’ channel on TV and they were at the red carpet of Despicable Me 3 and kids had the opportunity to send in questions to be asked to the cast. One very innocent question was asked to Steve Carell:
**”How do you get into character to play Gru?”**
And his answer (I am paraphrasing here. I couldn’t find the video online sadly):
**”No no no. I don’t think you understand.** (Yes that did sound as condescending as you just read it as.) **Acting in a cartoon isn’t like normal movies. The audience doesn’t see you, you don’t need to get into character. I just put on a silly voice and read the lines.”**
So as anyone knows voice acting is really no different to live action acting; maybe that should read “good voice acting”. Just watch any video of the recording booth for Tom Hanks in Toy Story or Jack Black in Kung Fu Panda and you will see them very much in character when they deliver their lines. After watching Despicable Me again I realised it feels weird because of Gru’s voice acting. Sure he sounds sad when he’s sad, angry when he’s angry etc. but there is no real feeling to the lines. I think this lack of feeling is somewhat covered by the accent which is why I didn’t realise it sooner.
*I found another interview where he again basically admits to doing a half-assed job:
**”Whenever I hear somebody complain about how difficult it is** [to do voiceovers]**, I want to punch them,”** he says. **”Because it’s really fun, and pretty easy. … You go in, you do a silly voice, you walk out.”**