By Steve Persall
Times Film Critic
Megamind soars above The Incredibles as the funniest superhero 'toon ever, which isn't a big deal since they're the only ones expressly built for laughs.
While fanboys and filmmakers take their caped crusaders too seriously, it's cool to finally have another movie spoofing the genre. The same goes for any animated flick existing only to be silly-smart, rather than Pixar mushy or epically Ga'Hoole. Megamind has bright comic minds behind it — not mega but close — and 3-D effects showing what the gimmick can do when filmmakers care.
Megamind begins tweaking convention by being told from the archvillain's point of view, a galaxy-sized ego stuffed into a tiny blue body until his head swelled like Jiffy Pop. The character, perfectly suited for Will Ferrell's delusional riffs, is fiercely ignorant of the fact that he's the dumbest guy in the room. Megamind's grand mispronunciation of the simplest words — "Metro City" is always "metrocity" — is a great running gag.
Metro City is where Megamind always finishes a distant second to Metro Man (Brad Pitt in full vocal swagger). Their rivalry, stretching back to otherworld infancy, leads to Megamind eliminating his nemesis, then realizing life isn't the same without him. Victory didn't even win the affection of their mutual crush, TV reporter Roxanne Ritchi, who zings like Tina Fey.
With the help of his toadying minion Minion (David Cross), Megamind creates a new superhero from a schlub (Jonah Hill) and names him Tighten (he probably can't spell "Titan"). The Frankenstein effect kicks in, and Megamind finds himself in the strange position of having to be a hero.
Director Tom McGrath (Madagascar) packs his movie with snappy one-liners and snazzy special effects, as megabattles between cosmic forces can inspire. Pay attention to his use of 3-D, particularly when reflections in glass or water are involved. Windows, mirrors and a champagne flute create lovely multiple images, and rain dripping on an invisible car or rippling on a street is gorgeous.
Eventually, the irrelevance making Megamind a nice change from pensive superheroes takes its toll. Montages of citywide destruction set to predictable power rock anthems (AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Guns N' Roses again) start piling up, and the screenplay begins stretching to fill time. Megamind's Kryptonite is a common weakness for any comedy so fast out of the blocks: It simply runs out of surprises.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at tampabay.com/blogs/movies.