A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this animated comedy flips the typical superhero formula on its head by focusing on supervillain Megamind (voiced by Will Ferrell), who doesn't quite know what to do with himself after the fall of his arch-rival supehero (Brad Pitt). Overall, the movie is age-appropriate for young grade-schoolers and up. There's one scene in which a character's supposed skeleton is shown and his death alleged, but other than that, the violence is all quite cartoonish and not particularly realistic or scary, and the 3-D isn't as intense as it is in some other animated movies. The language is also quite tame ("butt" and that sort of thing), but there's some romantic tension, and a couple holds hands, flirts, and eventually kisses. Most little kids won't understand the movie's general theme that good can't exist without evil and vice versa, but it's a fascinating concept to introduce to older children. Special note: Parents of younger kids should know that characters in the movie state that the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny don't exist.
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What's the story?
As a baby, supervillain MEGAMIND (voiced by Will Ferrell) was sent to Earth, Superman-style, on the very same day as his arch-rival, Metro Man (Brad Pitt). But while Metro Man lands under a rich couple's Christmas tree, Megamind ends up in a prison and is raised by convicts. After many years of rivalry, Megamind breaks out of jail on the day that Metro City is dedicating an entire museum in Metro Man's honor. With the help of his alien Minion (David Cross), Megamind ruins the ceremonies by kidnapping popular TV reporter Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey), whom he secretly loves. Then the unthinkable happens: Megamind succeeds in killing off Metro Man. Instead of reveling in his newfound power, Megamind eventually grows bored and purposeless and decides to create and train a new superhero he can battle. But once the new "hero," Titan (Jonah Hill), proves that he has no intention of using his powers for good, Megamind must figure out how to be a hero or risk losing Roxanne -- and Metro City -- forever.
Is it any good?
Ferrell is a gifted comedian, and his voice acting is fabulous. His hilariously affected pronunciations -- he calls Metro City "MeTROcity," as if it rhymes with "Monstrosity," and says melancholy as "meLANcholy" -- and his earnest banter with Fey's Roxanne prove early on that he's a hero trapped in a villain's body. Pitt, meanwhile, doesn't have much to do except convince viewers that his voice belongs to the kind of shiny superhero who can juggle smiling babies and reduce the women in town to tears with the merest glimpse of his dimpled grin. Not a hard job to do -- when you're Brad Pitt! Cross and Hill are amusing as sidekick and nemesis, respectively, but the all-star cast can't make up for the fact that the story falls a bit flat after Metro Man is defeated. Part of it is the boredom that Megamind feels, but another part is just slow -- even if there are plenty of laughs.
The music, for example, is a cliched playlist of rock favorites like Back in Black, Highway to Hell, and Welcome to the Jungle. All are great classics, but haven't we already heard them in plenty of other movies? Considering how original the Pharrell WIlliams soundtrack was on the similarly themed Despicable Me, these predictable (albeit instantly recognizable) choices seemed lazily selected. And that's the movie's overall problem: It's fun and funny, but it's not remarkable. It's not the kind of animated movie that will inspire Halloween costumes or repeat viewings on the family room DVD player.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the nature of good and evil. Do all superheroes need a supervillain nemesis? What happens after the hero is eliminated (or even the villain)? Can a hero exist in the absence of evil, and vice versa?
Metro Man says everyone has a choice whether to be the hero or not. Do you think that's true?
Can you think of other heroes who are different from the usual type? What are some examples?
- In theaters: November 5, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: February 22, 2011
- Cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Tina Fey, Will Ferrell
- Director: Tom McGrath
- Studio: DreamWorks Animation
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Space and Aliens
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: action and some language
- Last updated: February 25, 2020
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