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“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Saturday, July 24, 2010
    I'm Going to Break Down Into Gooey Stuff For a Minute

    It's been awhile since I posted... since the end of vacation, in fact. Things are happening, as they tend to do, but I have just not felt like blogging. Here at The Firm we have had the Drama and the Bad Stuff. This month has been rough; I diagnosed one patient with acute leukemia and lost another to ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). The ALS patient was only 34 years old. Last week I had another with newly diagnosed gastric cancer. Suffice to say I phoned my mom and broke down sobbing. I had to call her twice this week to reassure her that I was not ready to head off to Bellevue.

    But I saw a movie this week that punched my spirits back up. You may or may not feel like seeing it, but I personally would recommend it if you are feeling sad and down.

    The movie in question: Despicable Me. Yes, it's an animated feature. (Or to put it another way, a cartoon.) It ain't Pixar, but it's really good. Apparently this is Universal's first entry into the animation market, under the banner of Illumination Films. The main voice actors are Julie Andrews and Steve Carell. You've probably heard at least something about this film by now, but just to recap: Steve Carell plays Gru, a supervillain with a Russian accent, a subterranean lab in his suburban home and an army of minions. He's been at this gig for awhile and is slipping into middle age. A newer, younger, hungrier supervillain named Vector has just stolen the Great Pyramid and Gru has to fight this fellow for funding to steal the moon.

    Did I mention he has been fixated on the moon, and on gaining his mother's approval, since early boyhood? This fact is neatly established in the movie by way of flashbacks to the original moon landing, which will resonate with those of us who are of a certain age. At any rate, in order to steal the shrink ray which he needs to get the moon, he has to adopt three adorable orphaned girls - the reason why will become apparent when you see the film. Suffice to say that he plans to temporarily adopt and then dump them, but quickly changes his mind and winds up becoming their adopted father.

    This sounds corny, but there is more to the film than you would think from this recap. The minions are adorable, I have heard them described as "animated Twinkies." Although they look almost exactly alike, Gru clearly recognizes them as individuals and addresses them by name. Their shining moment comes during the credits and is reason enough for seeing the film in 3D - although I think 3D adds quite a bit to the whole movie. The orphan girls are played by quite good child actors and have plenty of spunk and personality. There are neat little hat tips to adult viewers throughout the film (references to The Godfather and Airplane!, not to mention a reference to a certain defunct banking firm).

    But what about the acting? Well, Steve Carell does a fantastic job with Gru. He revels in the character's evilness, but also makes him sympathetic. And his relationship with the girls evolves believably, to the point where he's gnawing his nails about the conflict between stealing the moon and going to their dance recital. (What dad can't relate?) His best friend and right-hand man Dr. Nefario is played by Russell Brand, who played the rock star in Get Him To the Greek. Brand is excellent.

    The little touches are also fun. To hide the pyramid, Vector puts it in his backyard and paints it sky blue with a few clouds on it. No one questions it. Agnes, the youngest orphan, has a fixation with unicorns - this joke is revisited several times in the film and is both funny and cute. And when Gru reads the girls a bedtime story... well, if you don't melt you have a colder heart than I. All I can say is, Go see this movie. I don't think you'll regret it.

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    sounds neat! I haven't been to the movies in ages...

    By Blogger Mr. Bingley, at July 26, 2010 at 3:30:00 AM PDT  

    Those talking Twinkies look a lot like a friend of mine who also looks a lot like Spongebob. Glad it cheered you up a little. Whatever works (well, except, you know. Substances ;)

    By Blogger Pisser, at July 27, 2010 at 2:28:00 AM PDT  

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