'Megamind' gives legitimacy to Dreamworks Animation

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Dreamworks Animation, more or less built on the mediocre “Shrek” franchise, has been staging something of a renaissance since those films wrapped up. First, 2008’s “Kung Fu Panda” was a charming comeback for the studio, and this year’s “How To Train Your Dragon” and now, “Megamind,” have solidified them as a legitimate opponent to the animation powerhouse that is Pixar Animation Studios.

A legitimately fun twist on superhero lore, “Megamind’s” titular character (voiced by Will Ferrell) becomes engulfed in an existential crisis after defeating his arch-nemesis, superhero Metro Man (voiced by Brad Pitt) and finding himself with no counterpoint to his lighthearted brand of diabolical evil. However, when a worse threat emerges, Megamind finds himself becoming the very thing he’d tried to destroy.

The story is pretty predictable and basic, and a lot of the same ground was tread by this summer’s “Despicable Me.” However, where that film was cavity-inducing sweet, “Megamind” goes for as many laughs as possible, and nails most of them. While the humor tends to skew toward the kids in the audience, a few hilariously wry moments are thrown in for the older crowd, especially an extended Marlon Brando parody that never stops being funny.

The film is beautifully animated, and the 3-D is marvelously used, with very few gimmicky or obnoxious shots. Ferrell’s typically boisterous delivery fits the material to a tee, and the rest of the cast ranges from perfectly suited (Brad Pitt’s Metro Man) to awkward but effective (Tina Fey’s Lois Lane-esque reporter).

In the end, “Megamind” is a surprisingly funny and engrossing film, putting some entertaining twists on superhero archetypes and earning its handful of sentimental moments. The predictable story drags the whole thing down, but the presentation is so charming and the characters so enjoyable that it barely matters.