NOTHING'S EASY when you're a blue-skinned, bulbous-headed supervillain—and especially when there's a mighty superhero thwarting your every move. That's the problem facing Megamind (voiced by Will Ferrell), a bright blue alien with a gigantic noggin, sent to Earth as a baby from a dying planet—kind of like Superman. Except that another baby from another dying planet was sent to Earth right around at the same time, and that baby? Well, that baby turns out to be the strong, handsome Metro Man (voiced by Brad Pitt), and Metro Man is simply better equipped to be a superhero. As a result, Megamind is forced into the margins, where he finds his potential as a supervillain, amassing a collection of evil-looking black capes, setting up a lair in an abandoned observatory, and barking orders to his hench-fish, Minion (voiced by David Cross).
There's a lot to like in Megamind, particularly its jolly but thoughtful handling of the ambiguity between good and evil. We know Megamind isn't really evil; as voiced by Ferrell, doing a subtle but bizarre accent, he's too likeably hilarious. The animation is ambitious but not overly complicated, and displays a sense of size and scale that's not always handled in 3D animation with this kind of accuracy. The voice performances—Ferrell in particular, but also Cross, Tina Fey as a news reporter, and Jonah Hill as her schlubby cameraman—hold the movie together in a way that doesn't merely feel like celebrity stunt casting. If the story gets jumbled along the way, in need of perhaps a rewrite or two, the visuals and the quick-witted verbal exchanges carry it through any sticky patches.
In fact, the level of intelligence on display here indicates that perhaps Megamind isn't geared for tinier children. The film's central joke is a fairly sophisticated one: When Megamind—somewhat accidentally—eradicates Metro Man for good, he's at a total loss as to what he should do with his newfound power. He doesn't really want to destroy the world, or inflict evil, or do any of the things archenemies typically do. This reluctant, halfhearted villainy gives Megamind a weight and depth that hasn't been seen in a family superhero movie since The Incredibles.