Despicable Me (2010)

By Michael Schilf · July 27, 2010

Screenplay Genre: Animation / Comedy / Family

Movie Time: 95 minutes

Synopsis: After the world's newly anointed #1 supervillain, Vector (Jason Segal), steals the Great Pyramid of Giza, the world's #2 supervillain, Gru (Steve Carrell), resolves to pull off the biggest heist in world history: stealing the moon. In order to obtain a shrinking machine to execute his plan, he adopts three orphan girls and exploits them in order to obtain the gun and put his plan in motion. However, slowly but surely, the girls worm their way into Gru's heart, changing him forever.



Introduce Protagonist: Gru is SuperBad: smashes cars while parallel parking, uses a freeze ray on a line of "Starbucks" type patrons, pops a child's animal balloon.

World of the Story: Big! Over the top: big time supervillians (superbad versus superbad), the coolest gadgets, and unthinkable heists.

Status Quo: Gru is a Supervillain (with major Mommy issues), struggling to stay on top of the Villain World with a whole new batch of up and coming supervillains

Dramatic Premise: With Gru's pride wounded with news of The Great Pyramid of Giza heist, he resolves to get back on top of the villain world by stealing the moon.

Status Quo Obstacle: Gru fails to convince Mr. Perkins, the president of the Bank of Evil (formerly Loman Brothers), for a loan to steal the moon.

* Inciting Incident (Plot Point #1): Mr. Perkins refuses to give Gru the loan until Gru obtains the shrink ray needed to carry out the moon heist plan.


Introduce Antagonist: As Gru leaves bank, he meets Vector – the new #1 supervillain – and shoots Vector's head with his freeze ray, beginning the rivalry.

Introduce Supporting Characters: Margo, Edith, and Agnes in their status quo: living under the hard hand of Miss Hattie, the mistress of a local orphanage.

Protagonist's Objective: Steal the moon. But first Gru must (1) steal shrink ray so (2) he can get loan from Bank of Evil and (3) build a rocket to get him to the moon.

Predicament Obstacle: After Gru steals the shrink ray from secret East Asia lab, Vector steals it from Gru. Now Gru must get it back, but Vector's lair is a tour de force. Gru is smacked, punched, kicked, blown up, even eaten by a shark.

Predicament Solution: Gru watches the cookie-selling orphan girls effortlessly allowed inside Vector's lair. Gru now knows Vector's weakness: cookies.

* The Lock-In (Plot Point #2): Gru signs official adoption papers. Now he must live with & care for Margo, Edith & Agnes until he can use them to get in Vector's lair.


Establish Second Act Main Tension: Will Gru obtain his goal: stealing the moon? Will Margo, Edith, & Agnes finally find a home… and more importantly a dad?

First 2nd Act Obstacle: Living with orphans. Gru's rules are simple: no crying, no talking, no annoying noises, no touching anything. But kids are kids.

Failure/Ramifications: The girls explore Gru's house – a dangerous place. After Edith gets stuck inside a coffin with spikes, Gru can't afford to leave the girls alone.

Raise the Stakes: When girls discover trap door/elevator into Gru's underground hideout. Gru has to come clean – to a point – explaining his minions and Dr. Nefario.


New 2nd Act Obstacle: Girls deliver Vector's cookie order, unaware Dr. Nefario has package robot cookies – designed to help steal shrink ray – among the rest.

Failure/Ramifications: Robot cookies cut a hole in Vector's fortress to let Gru in to steal back shrink gun, but the plan fails when robots seal Gru inside the vault.

*First Culmination (Plot Point #3): But Gru escapes with shrink gun through main entrance. This is a high point for Gru. He is winning – everything going his way.


Subplot Revival: The orphans. They've served their purpose, but also made an emotional connection, manipulating Gru to take them to an amusement park.

Subplot Obstacle: The orphans were only supposed to be a tool to be used, and Gru tries hard NOT to enjoy himself and play the role of "the Dad", but he does care.

Failure/Ramifications: Now he's riding roller coasters and putting bully park vendors in their place, only helping to solidify the emotional connection with them.

Second Act Status Quo: Keeping the girls. Gru has everything now: the shrink gun, the moon heist plan, and the girls: real bonding relationships for the first time.

Higher 2nd Act Obstacle: Gru shows the shrink ray and specifics of the moon heist plan to Bank of Evil Mr. Perkins, who likes the plan, but not Gru. No bank loan.

Failure/Ramifications: Bank rejection forces inner confidence and ingenuity. Gru decides – with help from minions, Dr. Nefario, & girls that they'll do it themselves.

Rising Action: Two reversals. Expecting it easy to get rid of orphans after they served their purpose, Gru has gotten closer to them. Expectation of bank loan after showing Mr. Perkins the shrink ray is obliterated after he is still denied the funds.


Highest 2nd Act Obstacle: Building the rocketship that will bring Gru to the moon. With everyone pitching in – no stone unturned – Dr. Nefario and the minions work tirelessly from dawn to dusk erecting the rocket, using everything from the kitchen sink and living room furniture.

Failure/Ramifications: As Gru builds relationship with girls, enjoying domestic life. Nefario sees them as a distraction & gives Gru ultimatum: the girls or the moon.

*Main Culmination (Plot Point #4): Nefario arranges for girls to go back to orphanage. This is emotional low point for Gru, who loses the girls and his heart is broken, as well as for the girls, who finally found a home but are abandoned again.


Third Act Tension: Stealing the moon will assert Gru as the #1 Supervillain of all time, but he must miss the girls' ballet recital since the heist falls on the same day.

Act Three Obstacle: Gru must steal the moon. It's no easy feat – flying a homemade rocket into space, jettisoning himself from his craft, shrinking and securing the moon, only to race back to Earth in a vain attempt to still make the recital.

Failure/Ramifications: Gru pockets the moon but can't appreciate the heist, rocketing back to Earth in a vein attempt to catch the recital, but he's too late.

Character Arc: A changed man, Gru realizes his priority is to be there for the girls & hates himself for choosing the moon heist over the girls' recital.

* Third Act Twist (Plot Point #5): The recital is over, but Gru discovers a ransom note from Vector, who has kidnapped the girls: the moon for the girls, an even trade.


The Last Obstacle: Gru hands over the moon, but Vector reneges on returning the girls, blasting off with the moon and the abducted girls in his escape pod.

Obligatory Scene: Gru rescues girls – with help of Nefario and minions – as shrink ray effects wear off and the moon increases in size, obliterating Vector's controls, causing the escape pod to blast the moon – and Vector – back into space.

Resolution: Gru saves the girls & himself. Back home, he reads them a homemade finger puppet bedtime story, and kisses them (and each of his minions) goodnight.

New Status Quo: As the movie poster promises, Gru has turned from SUPERBAD to SUPERDAD. Gru and the girls settle down to live happily ever after in the suburbs.