One disadvantage of being a soulless, horrific fiend, who with a mere glance can boil the marrow in the bones of the innocent, is that people think you don’t like cartoons. Peasants, tradesmen, and scruffy German professors who should know better all clasp this flabby misconception to their bosoms, as if it were a sickly infant that only the milk of ignorance could nourish. This notion is nothing but odious rubbish. I assure you that I and four other Vampire Princes sat in attendance on opening night of Fantasia, urging that Mickey Mouse suffer damnation, delivered by a broom that surely was animated by the forces of Hell. Therefore, to those churlish enough to suggest I must disdain animated films, I say bah. May their slumber be destroyed by scorpions behaving in an entirely improper fashion.

Today I propose to discuss the film Despicable Me. I admittedly approached it with elevated expectations, since its protagonist is a literal villain, and the word “despicable” dominates the title. It is as if the filmmakers have promised ninety minutes of terror, suffering, and grinding degradation. Indeed, my henchman Nodwick squirmed in anticipation to such a distracting degree that I resorted to chaining him to his seat, and I found myself compelled to threaten him with nailing his hands to the armrests. 

The film’s initial scenes sated my hunger for an execrable, villainous hero and whetted my anticipation for greater depredations to come. True, I could wish that Groo had simply killed his horrible neighbor’s dog rather than alluding to the act in a sideways manner, perhaps with entrails artistically hurled across the lawn. But that is no more than quibbling on my part. I sensed the film urging us forward from Groo’s current loathsome, alligator and rhinoceros-filled existence into a future of shattering destruction, rushing along a story arc that would make Aeschylus blush with approval. I saw the film’s promise come into flower as three moderately innocent young persons thrust themselves into Groo’s world of devastation and woe, and I waited for him to visit profound, agonizing, and all-encompassing obliteration upon them, as certainly he must.

That which followed shocked me in a manner unequalled since Lord Zülta devoured twelve drunken gypsies and goat in three minutes. In fact, I heard Nodwik whisper, “Holy shit,” and I clouted him so fiercely he was unable to open his left eye for a month. Aghast, I observed Groo allowing himself to be cajoled and goaded in a manner that would make any black-faced lamb weep with shame. He accepted this abuse from three insignificant, barely sentient children, some of whom wore pink, if that can be conceived. I felt impelled to slay Groo without hesitation, yet I realized he was merely an image wrought by an animator and his calculating machines. I resolved to find this animator at once and dismember him, hiding each limb on a different continent like grisly Easter eggs.

As I began to unchain Nodwick, an image scraped across the screen that altered my entire perception of the film. I refer to Vector, the supposed antagonist of the film, presented as a villain to rival Groo. I came quite near to smiling in amusement—indeed, my lip might have twitched. Vector was a vapid, crass, worthless excrescence of a villain, undeniably so. Even the squid in Vector’s “squid gun” rolled its eyes at his ineptitude. The appearance of Vector’s repugnant self placed this film into its proper focus. Despicable Me is not a heroic saga of evil and horror on a profound scale, as I had initially conceived it to be. Rather, it is a cautionary tale of allowing one’s potential for hideous malignance to dissipate into pathetic ineptitude. Heedless of the peril, Groo descends into mediocrity by waging against a mediocre puff of flatulence. He embraces frailty by coddling frail and unhygienic urchins, rather than splintering their bones and stripping their souls from the flesh.

Why does Groo fail? The brilliance of Despicable Me resides in Groo’s excuses for his abject embarrassment, which he disguises as compassion and ridiculous finger puppets. Groo fails because his mother treated him abominably. That weakness then seeps into his mighty cruelty and splits it, just as water might seep into an oak tree and smash it open at the first freeze.

Good lord, Groo, we all had mothers. Having a mother excuses nothing.

Every being that wishes to perpetrate evil upon the pure and guileless denizens of this world should immediately watch Despicable Me. Do not wait until you have tortured that final shabby villager. Do not wait for that virtuous young woman to retire, clad in her ridiculously diaphanous nightgown and awaiting your mesmerizing presence to usher her into damnation. Go and see it forthwith.

Despicable Me serves as a foul beacon reminding us to master our craven weaknesses, and to slaughter every prepubescent child before it utters a solitary precocious syllable. For that, I give Despicable Me five horrific tortures involving the mucus membranes, out of five.

Really Groo? A unicorn?


I feel like a jerk for not caring whether Harry Potter lives or dies. He’s such a nice fellow, friendly, self-sacrificing, destined to vanquish the forces of evil, and humble. You couldn’t want a finer friend than Potter. Yet I find myself far more moved by the fate of Groo, that evil, galloping skag from the movie Despicable Me.

I understand why people love Harry, and I’m in no way criticizing them for adoring the world-famous wizard. He has a crew of fascinating and devoted friends who assist him in fighting the evil Voldemort. Groo just has tiny yellow minions who squabble like the Three Stooges and create disasters that make their master look like a dork. True, the tiny minions number in the hundreds. Then again, Harry’s friends seem to number in the hundreds too, especially when you try to keep track of them through all seventeen movies. (I’ll double-check that number later. There might have been eighteen movies.)

Harry Potter’s story spans an impressive scope. We follow him across his teenage years, through the magical and mundane worlds, from hero to criminal and back. He’s as noble as Sir Lancelot, and he bounces back from defeat like Godzilla. Yet my buddy Groo walked on the outer skin of a rocket ship headed roughly towards the moon; that’s impressive, right? Maybe Harry has neat toys like invisibility cloaks and wands and such, but Groo has a couch shaped like an alligator.

Perhaps the virtue, nobility, generosity and cleanliness Harry displays across his entire adolescence have put me off. If he’d gotten drunk one night and slipped a horse into Dumbledore’s study then I could better relate to him. But instead he starts off good and remains good throughout the tale. Groo starts off planning to destroy the world, and he ends up tucking little orphan girls into gutted bombs. That’s character development.

My friends anticipated the release of the final Potter film like boa constrictors dangling above an unwary tourist in the rain forest. Song parodies about Harry Potter are flourishing on the internet. Fans will hold Harry Potter movie marathons to enjoy good fellowship, Dorito-overdoses, and brutal gang fights between would-be Gryffindors and Slytherins. Wholesome fun for everybody. But I just can’t find the Joy of Harry within my soul.

I admire Harry. He’s a great role model. I applaud the people who love him. But to help you understand my ambivalence over Harry’s goodness, I recently wrote a story in which a man chases a wounded, fleeing ruffian, knocks him down, and casually kills him. I asked my wife, “Is this character too cruel to relate to?”

She said, “I’m probably not the best person to ask.” When I persisted, she said, “I’ve been with you for 20 years, so my viewpoint has been affected.”

I pointed out that I’ve never chased down and murdered a helpless person, to which she replied, “But if it were allowed, you know that you’d do it.”

I sincerely hope everyone has a good time at the theater and enjoys all things Harry. You are all fine people. If you want to reach me in the meantime, my friend Groo and I will be hanging out on his alligator-shaped couch.