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Megamind vs. the Doom Syndicate

The original “Megamind,” released in 2010, was a fresh, funny, and heartwarming animated film with wildly imaginative visuals and A-list voice talent, including Will Farrell, Tina Fey, Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and David Cross. Fourteen years later, this new straight-to-streaming flick is not fresh, with derivative visuals and mostly nondescript voice talent. It is intermittently funny and briefly heartwarming, as though they ran the original through the washing machine a few times, and then faxed it. Its primary purpose is to serve as an infomercial for a new streaming series: “Megamind Rules” comes to your home screens this month.

Since this generation of the intended audience was not born when the first film came out, it begins with a brief recap. Megamind (originally voiced by Ferrell, now by Keith Ferguson) was a fiendish villain in Metrocity (which he continues to pronounce to rhyme with atrocity), ably assisted by a tech-savvy fish who lives inside a bowl on top of a robot body (originally David Cross, here Josh Brener). This character was known as Minion in the original movie but is now renamed Ol’ Chum to avoid confusion with the very popular yellow Minion characters from the “Despicable Me” cinematic universe. When Megamind created an even more evil supervillain just as Metrocity’s beloved Superman-like superhero decided to retire, Megamind found that he could be a hero, and he saved the day, with the help of the city’s intrepid television journalist, Roxanne (formerly Fey, now Laura Post). 

It is a promising set-up, as Megamind has to re-orient himself to consider the value of helping others and figure out what to do with the bad guys who used to be his colleagues. As the movie begins, he is going after a gang of criminals who dress as fish, though he takes a moment to say, almost wistfully, even admiringly, “It’s something the old evil me would have done back in the day.” He sighs, “Sometimes I miss the simplicity of the bad old days.”

He misses even more when the previously devoted Ol’ Chum leaves because Megamind refuses to promote him to sidekick. By himself, Megamind is not even able to figure out how to use his toaster. And then his former gang, the Doom Syndicate, breaks out of prison and he must find a way to convince them that he is still evil while he figures out how to recapture them before they can proceed with their evil plan. He persuades Roxanne to pretend to be his fiancée and partner in crime. And Keiko (Maya Aoki Tuttle), a smart, brave young girl who knows all about new-fangled ideas like live-streaming and social media, shows Megamind that he can accept help from others. Ol’ Chum has his own adventures in a diner, but comes back to join the team as well.

The Doom Syndicate includes a French mime, a fiery rock monster, a former weather forecaster who can control lightning, and a goth-y guy who has just changed his name from Lord Knight to Lord Nighty-Night and carries a stuffed teddy bear called Mr. Cuddly Snuggles. As this suggests, the film reassures its young audience by making the bad guys and action scenes more silly than scary, along with the ever-popular poop and barf comedy. It is less successful at understanding its intended audience when it comes to some of the verbal humor, not clever enough to entice parents to watch with their children, just out of touch, by a generation or two. Really, jokes about the “Titanic” movie, Simon and Garfunkel lyrics from the 60s, and nose hair clippers? Even more recent references are unlikely to land with elementary schoolers. When the Doom Syndicate puts on a block party the night before the big plan will go into effect, Megamind complains that he is “the victim of an impromptu rager,” urges the partygoers to use coasters, and then tells the DJ to “put another stanky groove in my pocket.”

There are lessons about bullying and teamwork, and Megamind learns that what separates the good guys from the villains is concern for the safety and feelings of others. There’s also a very brief mention of the importance of voting and the power of democracy (and good candidates). But compared to the original or to more recent films like “Boss Baby” and “The Bad Guys,” it is slapdash and lightweight.

Nell Minow

Nell Minow is the Contributing Editor at RogerEbert.com.

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Film Credits

Megamind vs the Doom Syndicate movie poster

Megamind vs the Doom Syndicate (2024)

Rated G

Cast

Keith Ferguson as Megamind (voice)

Laura Post as Roxxane (voice)

Josh Brener as OI' Chum (voice)

Maya Tuttle as Keiko Morita (voice)

Emily Jasmin Tuñon as Lady Doppler (voice)

Talon Warburton as Lord Nighty-Knight (voice)

Scott Adsit as Pierre Pressure (voice)

Chris Sullivan as Behemoth (voice)

Tony Hale as Mel/Mr. Donut (voice)

Jeanine Mason as Christino Christo (voice)

Adam Lambert as Machiavillain (voice)

Director

Writer

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