If Toy Story 3 is the prime rib dinner of movies this summer, Despicable Me is a huge slice of three-layer chocolate cake. It’s not quite as meaty as Pixar’s latest, but you might just enjoy it more.

Gru (Steve Carell) is the greatest supervillain of all time– at least until it’s discovered that someone even villain-er stole one of the Egyptian pyramids (and slyly replaced it with a giant, inflatable one). Desperate to regain his crown, Gru decides to shoot for the moon… literally. He’s devised a plan to shrink the moon to the size of a baseball, and then steal it. Mwah-ha-haaaah!

Not only is Gru an accomplished supervillain (he’s already stolen the Times Square JumboTron and the mini Vegas Statue of Liberty), he’s also just a genuinely bad man. Not below using a freeze-ray to jump the line at Starbucks or making a balloon animal for a crying child only to turn around and pop it, Gru lives each day as if he’s trying to out-Grinch the Grinch.

Deep beneath his house, Gru has rallied his minions (those ubiquitous tater-tot-shaped fellas) and his not-very-trusty sidekick Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) to put his new plan into action. Step one: steal a shrink-ray from Vector (Jason Segal), the nerdy, track-suited supervillain who, as it turns out, was the baddie who nabbed the pyramid. Long story short– Gru realizes that three little cookie-peddling orphan girls are just the ticket to infiltrating Vector’s not-so-secret lair.

See? You’re already chuckling.

Despicable Me is nothing less than pure, family-friendly fun. There isn’t anything even close to a “tense scene”, unless you count a hilarious montage (Roadrunner & Wile E. Coyote-style) of Gru’s failed attempts (pre-orphan) to get into Vector’s lair. Even Gru’s evil ways are played for laughs, and I don’t think I’m giving anything away to share that he (like the Grinch) learns his lesson and sees his heart grow three sizes before the credits roll.

As rollicking as the movie is as a whole, there’s also plenty of hilarious little moments, from when a trio of minions are sent to the store to replace one of the orphan’s stuffed animals (accidentally disintegrated by a destructo-ray) to when Gru and the three girls hit a local amusement park for a fun afternoon (the roller-coaster ride evoked genuine screams of glee in the theater). Animated in an art deco-y style, reminiscent of the hugely-underrated Meet the Robinsons, Despicable Me is not only fun, it’s fun to look at, as well.

It’s easily appropriate for all ages, and, parents, you’ll be over-the-moon that you tagged along. So grab a fork and dig in. Just be ready… your kids will probably want seconds.

4.5/5 stars