Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes, yet they are most easily recognized when they have chiseled jaw lines, broad shoulders and bulging muscles. It doesn’t hurt that Metro Man (voice by Brad Pitt) also has a skintight, spandex suit and a white cape to distinguish him from the everyday citizens of Metro City.
Like other champions before him, Metro Man is an alien sent here from a dying planet. Luckily he fell on the doorstep of a well-to-do family and was raised with all the privileges a wealthy upbringing could offer. His antithesis and arch nemesis, the blue-skinned Megamind (voice by Will Ferrell), also hails from a distant galaxy. His childhood, however, was spent behind bars in the Metro City Prison where he bounced to a landing in his space pod. Over the years, the battles between the pair have gone from legendary to rather routine.
Time after time, Megamind and his underling Minion (voice by David Cross) kidnap reporter Roxanne Ritchi (voice by Tina Fey) in an attempt to lure Metro Man into their hands. But the game rules change when the bigheaded scoundrel manages to permanently rid the city of its favorite do-gooder. Suddenly the super villain is left with no one to stop him from taking anything he wants from the unlucky residents who share his zip code.
But without a fight, Megamind’s unbridled ability to bully the locals quickly becomes unfulfilling. Putting his enlarged cranium to work, he determines to make a new superhero to combat. Unfortunately, Tighten (voice by Jonah Hill) turns out to be more evil than his creator. Watching his handiwork wreak havoc on his hometown, Megamind must venture where he’s never gone before—on the side of good.
For superhero buffs, the movie plays homage to all kinds of previous action figures including Captain Marvel, Flash, X-Men and Ghost Rider. Even actor Ben Stiller lends his vocal talents to a replica of Marlon Brando’s fatherly figure in Superman. (Stiller’s children, Ella and Quinn, also voice characters.) Yet while those comic book references, along with plenty of well-written quips aimed at older audiences, will engage the parents in the theater, the film’s introspective second act may fail to hold the attention of younger viewers. As well, the slapstick humor (which is often heavy on "slap") involves a large stick repeatedly used to knock people out. Explosions, property damage and the depiction of a character’s death may also be unsettling to some children.
Still, for older kids and the adults that accompany them, this script offers an engaging twist to the superhero genre and more rounded characters than most animations. While it may seem strange to find yourself cheering for the villain, the message of this movie seems to be that although a tiger can’t change its stripes, even bad people can do some surprisingly good things when given the opportunity.