What happens when you put The Incredibles and Unbreakable into a blender and press puree? Not much, as the uninspired new animated comedy Megamind illustrates.
The movie starts out cute enough: Two aliens – one dashingly handsome and popular; the other a blue-skinned, egg-headed outcast – are dispatched to Earth by their families. They grow up as lifelong rivals and eventually become warring superheroes. Metro Man (voiced by Brad Pitt) keeps peace in Metro City, while Megamind (Will Ferrell) tries – and repeatedly fails – to foil him.
But when Megamind kidnaps the local newscaster Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey) and unexpectedly succeeds in destroying his rival, the balance of power is thrown off. What good is a super-villain without a superhero with whom to wage battle?
The problem here is that director Tom McGrath and writers Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons have taken a fairly belabored premise – the anxiety-ridden inner-lives of superheroes – and done nothing new with it. You can predict virtually every beat of the story, including Megamind’s crisis of conscience (why has he been living a life of evil when there is so much good to be done?), and the emergence of an even more tedious secondary villain (Jonah Hill, whose character is mysteriously animated to look exactly like the real-life Jonah Hill).
There’s not enough humor here, either. A couple of the jokes are clever, including a running gag about Megamind’s mispronunciations (he calls it “Metrocity” instead of “Metro City”). But mostly the filmmakers seem to be indulging themselves: At one point, Megamind transforms into a cartoon version of Marlon Brando in Superman, a gag that the kids won’t get and the adults won’t find especially funny.
In a year with so much strong animation – How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me and especially Toy Story 3 – you have to do a lot better than that to stand out
Voices: Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill.
Director: Tom McGrath.
Writers: Alan J. Schoolcraft, Brent Simons.
Producer: Lara Breay, Denise Nolan Cascino.
A Dreamworks release. Running time: 96 minutes. Action, some language. Opens Friday Nov. 5 at area theaters.