Despicable Me

Steve Carell, Russell Brand, Miranda Cosgrove | PG |

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ANIMATION

Think of Despicable Me as the bizarro Toy Story 3. While Buzz and Woody's final adventure focused on rich characters, tight plotting and subtle 3-D graphics, Despicable glories in 3-D trickery, producing such superb effects that those annoying glasses are worth the strain. It's the story that suffers. Carell plays Gru, a supervillain with plans to steal the moon to please his creaky mentor (Brand) and fend off dippy rival Vector (Jason Segel). To thwart Vector, Gru hatches a plan to adopt three girls that's so inane, you understand why he's slipping as a supervillain. But thank goodness he does, because Despicable doesn't begin to get interesting, funny, or emotionally involving until those kids show up. As Gru struggles with priorities-the girls or his nefarious career?-the audience takes zippy rides around Earth, to the moon and on a dizzyingly real roller coaster. And eventually the story catches up to the wonder of the effects.

The Kids Are All Right

Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo | R |

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OSCAR BUZZ

DRAMA

The kids-Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson)-are great, actually, but man, are their moms struggling. Breezy Jules (Moore) starts a landscaping business, maybe to feel grounded in her life: Joni is preparing for college; Laser has his own friends; and doctor wife Nic (Bening) doesn't seem to see her. Nic, tired of bankrolling Jules' whims, retreats into work and wine. It's the kids who hunt for a connection, finding their sperm donor, Paul (Ruffalo), a seductively casual guy. That Paul and Jules are attracted to each other is stunning yet relatable, like the film itself. Bening is brilliant in her portrayal of Nic's contained devastation, but all the actors make the most of even the silences in director Lisa Cholodenko and cowriter Stuart Blumberg's stellar script. Sure, it's early in the season for Oscar bait, but when it's this good, why wait?

Kenny Wormald, 25, nabs Kevin Bacon's role in an upcoming remake of the 1984 classic

GO SOX!

The Boston native quit baseball for ballet, landing on MTV's Dancelife: "I thought I'd be a Red Sox pitcher. I made the right decision!"

SHOES TO FILL

"Footloose was awesome to see as a young dancer. I want to make Kevin Bacon and fans happy."

PING-PONG PLAYA

On tour as a dancer for Justin Timberlake, "we played Ping-Pong to the death. Justin always beat me."

Look who keeps surprising audiences this summer. Russell Brand was keenly subtle as a has-been rocker in Get Him to the Greek. Now he turns in a hilarious-and unrecognizable-voice performance as the decrepit but still devotedly evil Dr. Nefario.

Jack Rebney has been called "the angriest man on earth," and the hilariously foul-mouthed outtakes from his 20-year-old Winnebago sales video are a YouTube hit with fans such as Ben Affleck and Conan O'Brien. A new documentary, Winnebago Man, goes in search of the cult figure. Bleeping brilliant!

It's a record season for summer stinkers

THE LAST AIRBENDER

Why It Should've Worked: Director M. Night Shyamalan adapted a cool kids' cartoon series.

Why It Didn't: Bad acting, lame visuals and a script that bends logic.

THE KILLERS

Why It Should've Worked: Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher? Perfect pair!

Why It Didn't: Unless, of course, they have no chemistry and painful jokes.

JONAH HEX

Why It Should've Worked: Josh Brolin is a natural as an outlaw with a gnarly snarl.

Why It Didn't: The holes in the script are bigger than the one in Hex's face.

The iCarly star, 17, voices an orphan girl in the clutches of a supervillain in the new movie and reveals her all-time top animated films.

THE LITTLE MERMAID

It's my favorite and the first movie I ever watched. I was 5. I love the song "Kiss the Girl." I was even Ariel for Halloween one year-I had the wig!

FINDING NEMO

I like that it has so much heart, and I love water animals. My favorite scene is when Dory remembers seeing Nemo. Ellen DeGeneres is hysterical!

ICE AGE

The story is different than anything I've seen. Queen Latifah's character in the sequel is so funny and over-the-top. I really like those types of characters.

UP

It's really imaginative. I've always loved making up stories, so I appreciate movies that are creative. I also like its message to follow your dreams. And I love the grandpa.

RATATOUILLE

It's a pretty mature story, and I like that. I also like it because I'm really into cooking-but I'm horrible. I'm all right at baking: I can make cupcakes with strawberries.