Friday, August 13, 2010

Despicable Me is one of the best scripts of the summer

It's a treat to watch a film with a great screenplay.  In fact, we don't see the screenplay, we just get caught up in the story and characters, but it's to the credit of the screenplay FIRST (not to denigrate any other department's contribution to a film's success, but until the writer does his/her job, no one else even has a one), that this even happens.

Despicable Me is worth some study because it both conforms to the best kind of screenwriting structure AND transcends it.

In Gru we have what appears to be a paradoxical hero - someone who aspires to be a villain.  Most screenwriting dictum claims the hero should be likeable, yet needing to change.  Yet, the necessity for that change makes it difficult to make a likeable hero.  If he's so likeable, why does he need to change?

The screenplay achieves this difficult combination by making Gru's villainy understandable so we relate to it.  He's not a villain because he's "bad".  He's just trying to get his mother to love him.  Unimpressed with him as a child, his mother MOTIVATES him to want to be the greatest evil genius in the world.  It's the motivation that's clearly dramatized in the script that makes us actually care about Gru.  In the end, his mother doesn't actually love him anymore than at the start, but by then Gru (and we) have discovered that by loving, Gru gets the love he desperately needed.

The screenplay is highly inventive in how it executes, but highly classical in what it's trying to do.  A perfect combination.  And in the end, it truly is a script that makes you laugh, and amazingly, makes you cry.

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