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(2010), PG [13-PG*] (1hr 30.5min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
December 26, 2010
December 30, 2010

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2010), PG [13-PG*] ... a noble destination does not excuse an ignoble path

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Illumination Entertainment
Distribution (US): Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Director(s): Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Producer(s): John Cohen, Janet Healy, Christopher Meledandri, Sergio Pablos, Nina Rappaport, Robert Taylor
Writing Credits: Story - Sergio Pablos; Screenplay - Ken Daurio, Cinco Pau
Music: Heitor Pereira, Pharrell Williams
Film Editing: Gregory Perler, Pam Ziegenhagen
Production Design: Yarrow Cheney
Art Direction: Eric Guillon
Viewed on Universal Studios Home Entertainment DVD

Despicable Me earned a CAP final score of 63 giving it an overall magnitude score in near the top of the scoring range earned by movies rated PG-13 (55 to 67 out of 100) in the comparative baseline database. However, the investigation area scoring distribution (the CAP thermometers and the Findings/Scoring section) reveals most significant matters of some concern. The movie earned solid G-equivalence in Drugs/Alcohol (D), Offense to God (O) and in Murder/Suicide (M) with a PG-equivalence in Sexual Immorality. But Despicable Me earned R-equivalence in Wanton Violence/Crime (W) and in Impudence/Hate (I). In a tabular display this data is

Investigation Area Score Equivalence
Wanton Violence/Crime Zero R
Impudence/Hate 4 R
Sexual Immorality 74 PG
Drugs/Alcohol 100 G
Offense to God 100 G
Murder/Suicide 100 G

This relationship reveals one of the most powerful features of the CAP analysis model -- to reveal the relative position and depth of assaults on morality and decency within an item of entertainment. The MPAA says "PG." The CAP says why. And where.

Bear with me and consider the comparatives that follow before you proceed with the rest of the report. The following should help you understand the above scoring distribution, especially the R-equivalence found in two investigation areas.

It would take a l-o-t more hits with a 10 pond sledge hammer to topple of a large cinder block wall than with a wrecking ball. But the end result is the same -- a toppled wall.

Think of the cinder block wall as our natural wall of protection against assaults on morality and decency. To topple the wall of protection would take a l-o-t of hits with "lesser" assaults on morality and decency (the 10 pound sledge hammer) or fewer hits with more extreme assaults (the wrecking ball). Whether many of the lesser assaults or fewer of the extreme assaults are present the end result would be the same -- a destroyed, damaged or weakened wall, i.e., desensitization.

The tons of seemingly minor moral hits found by Wanton Violence/Crime and Impudence/Hate in Despicable Me is an example of using many hits from a 10 pound sledge hammer to topple or weaken our wall of natural inhibitions against immorality and decency instead of using a wrecking ball as do many more severely rated films such as PG-13 and R. Despicable Me is equivalent to many R-rated features in Wanton Violence Crime and Impudence/Hate NOT because of the severity of assaults on morality but because of so many assaults of the lesser kind. The overall envelope of content contains so many hits of the lesser kind in each of violence/crime and of impudence/hate that the resultant effect is equivalent in magnitude to the violence/crime and impudence/hate content of many R-rated features.

Another way to look at this is trying to break up a large ice block with a BB gun as opposed to breaking it up with a .44 Magnum. It would take a lot more BBs than .44 Magnum slugs to break up the ice block but the job would eventually get done using either method. Likewise with the little "projectiles" of lesser assaults on morality as opposed to the .44 Magnum projectiles of extreme assaults. With either many hits of lesser moral assault or with fewer hits of extreme assault, eventually the natural inhibitions against immorality are chipped away and lost -- we become desensitized.

Our CAP Rule of 1000 reprinted below (between the "***" divider bars) adds perspective to help you understand this relatively new technique of loading less severely rated programming with lots of "lesser" examples of assault on morality and decency to achieve the same effect as more severely rated entertainment presenting fewer but bold and intense examples of assault.

The CAP Rule of 1000 addresses a relatively new cinematographic technique of loading a movie with tons of "lesser" issues of assaults on wholesome morality to get the same effect or "feel" of a more severe movie which uses fewer but more extreme and bold issues of immorality. The CAP Rule of 1000 states that a movie which presents, for example, 100 examples of bad behaviors/images of lesser severity, each worth only 10 "bads" (Movie A) is just as negatively influential as a movie of the same length that presents only 10 examples of bad behaviors/images but of more extreme severity, each worth 100 "bads" (Movie B). Both movies are worth 1000 "bads."

Some modern PG and most PG-13 movies are examples of the CAP Rule of 1000. And what is really bad about this is that most of us have become accustomed to hearing and seeing such "minor" assaults on morality that they have become invisible to us, creating the "Gimme a break!" syndrome toward our pointing them out. We have become so progressively drugged by the narcotics of moral assaults in and as entertainment that what once was morally unacceptable has become morally invisible.

And by discussion with our Director - Child Psychology Support, the CAP Rule of 1000 is not quite linear. Meaning that for two movies of the same length which each earn the same number of "bads", the movie that presents many examples of lesser "bads" is indeed more negatively influential than the movie with only a few but more severe "bads."

Despicable Me is an example of "Movie A"; of using the 10 pound sledge hammer. Of course, not one single instance of assault on morality and decency was extreme as might be presented in any PG-13 or R-rated film ... there are no swings of the wrecking ball ... but that there are so m-a-n-y instances of "lesser" assault on morality ... so many swings of the 10 pound sledge hammer ... the magnitude (the amount of damage) of the sum of the swings of the 10 pound sledge hammer easily equals the magnitude of just a few swings of the wrecking ball -- the natural wall of inhibition against noble and wholesome manners is weakened or destroyed.

I have spent a lot of your time in this report explaining the complexities of the equivalence of the influence of hundreds of lesser assaults on morality to the influence of fewer but more bold and extreme assaults. I apologize for taking so much of your time but over the years I have found that many folks do not yet fathom the relationship I have discovered in modern entertainment and hope spending more time on discussing it with you will help you to embrace the issue.

Dr. Gru (voice of Steve Carell) is the despicable one, at least until his evil heart is melted by three orphaned girls. Gru is out to out-evil the evil Vector (Jason Segal), previously Victor, as the world's top villain. Vector has stolen one of the great pyramids using a shrink ray. Gru is going to top Vector by stealing the shrink ray then stealing the moon.

In a typical white picket fence neighborhood with well manicured lawns, Gru's black and dilapidated house sits as an eyesore. But little do the neighbors, Fred is one (Danny McBride), know that beneath Gru's house is a massive arsenal of evil workings tended by hundreds of little minions. Assisting Gru is Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand).

One day three little girls are dispatched by Miss Hattie (Kristen Wiig) of Miss Hattie's Orphanage to Gru's house to sell cookies. The girls, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove) the oldest, Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher) the youngest are bound and determined to sell cookies because Miss Hattie seems to suggest that if they sell enough cookies they might get adopted.

Adopted!? Now there is an idea. The girls can get inside Vector's fortress by taking him the cookies he previously ordered! So, Gru adopts the girls just so he can use them to get to the shrink ray. Despicable indeed.

Dr. Nefario built six robot cookies and hid them among the other chocolate chip cookies Vector ordered. After the girls delivered Vector's cookies -- once inside Vector's fortress -- the robot cookies actuate and proceed to work their jobs to enable Gru to steal the shrink ray. And that he does.

Fast forward.

In the end Gru comes around and develops a caring and loving relationship with the three girls and they with him as he moves from the villain to father role. This is indeed a good template for children to pick up in and as entertainment but a noble destination does not excuse an ignoble path -- that which the young mind seems more ready to absorb and mimic.

There is much more to the story and plot but I am not in the habit of spoiling a whole story of a movie and am not about to start. But I will get to that which most of you visit us -- the truth about the content of the film.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - Zero out of 100
The entire film is based on the crime of theft. Theft is theft whether with guns or not. The optics of the theft in this film, even in (and maybe especially in) a humorous setting, are that there are no consequences for it, thus emboldening the child or at least desensitizing him/her. The same goes for the myriad of other examples of violence and crime demonstrated in this film. Even the instance where a rocket blows up six minions without consequences sends the wrong signal to the young mind that is ill equipped to fully separate fantasy from reality or fully anticipate the consequences of his/her actions. Indeed, it would be unusual for a 16 year old to have fully developed coping and behavior management skills: such skills do not typically plateau until the early 20s.

Similarly even the slapstick violence with which this film is saturated can lead the observer into a path that mimics what s/he saw and heard onscreen. God told us about such an influence a long time ago. [Prov. 16:29]

Impudence/Hate (I) - 4 out of 100
Crude use of euphemisms for human body parts and functions was noted. [Eph. 5:4] Lying was demonstrated, both to and by children. Such lies that were told in this film might seem like those 'little white lies" but lying is lying no matter what brush is used to paint the picture. And God is quite stern about lying. Not only does one of the ten Commandments condemn lying [Exod. 20:16], God condemns it throughout the Old and New Testament. He even warns that the unforgiven liar will not make it into Heaven [Rev. 21:8].

But the child mischief, arrogance, meanness and rudeness provide the strongest and too often the most attractive opportunities for the young observer to mimic film content. Emotional abuse of and cruelty toward a child seen in this film can further embolden in the child a defensive application of the behavioral choice response template which the child invariably learns in such entertainment. We don't teach values to our children, values are caught by our children -- caught from the life experiences as the child journeys through it, experiences such as examples we set at home AND what they see onscreen.

Sexual Immorality (S) - 74 out of 100
The matters found applicable to this investigation area include the statue nudity, the pelvic thrusts, and the hit to the crotch. Additional demonstrations of concern regarding contempt for sexual humility include the adult character in underwear which included before children and the photocopying of the posterior. But of strongest concern was the mother character showing other characters a nude photograph of baby Gru while saying something like "Look at his [backside]."

Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 100 out of 100
There were no uses of illegal drugs or reference to them or possession of them, no smoking and no abuse of prescription drugs noted throughout the entire 90.5 minutes of programming.

Offense to God (O) - 100 out of 100
God's name was not used in vain even once. There were no noted instances of cultism, occultism, witchcraft, sorcery or any other use of evil "magic."

Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
This film presents no instances of murder. That the six minions were ostensibly killed by the errant rocket was not an intentional act and was incorporated into the Wanton Violence/Crime investigation area. Other matters that would logically involve death such as the bombing of Vector's lair were not included as murder but were incorporated also into the Wanton Violence/Crime investigation area.


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  • Prov. 16:29 A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good. [The issue is the violence, the 'way that is not good' no matter how "small" or "justified" the violence might seem, and its "leading" effect on the observer. "A violent man" ["man" here is enowsh {en-oshe"}: man (collective), mortal, person, mankind; contracted for iysh {eesh}: whosoever, each] can be any character of any age, any gender, human or not since the cinematic display is at the hands men and women, in the act of committing (demonstrating in the case of entertainment) violent behavior/action whether for good or evil or the violent behaviors/actions themselves. Such exposure can and does embolden the viewer into aggression, especially youth. It took years for American professional health community to finally affirm, probably without knowing it, that which God told us in 1 Cor. 15:33 below. See also Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children: Congressional Public Health Summit for more information. Further, God speaks darkly of violence 56 times in the Old and New Testament of the KJV.]
  • Eph. 5:4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
  • Exod. 20:16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  • Rev. 21:8 But the [unforgiven] fearful [deilos {di-los'}; timid, cowardly], and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers [sexually immoral], and sorcerers [all forms of evil/magic to force or do harm, including "magic" used for good if the magic is not from God], and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    Despicable Me (2010) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - Zero out of 100
  • portrayal of injury with sound, repeatedly
  • admission of committing widespread theft
  • theft, repeatedly
  • veiled threat & trying to hide it with humor
  • animal attack
  • slapstick violence, repeatedly
  • rocket blowing up six characters
  • encouragement of crime by mother
  • vehicular offense
  • images of pillars crushing characters
  • threat to kill
  • weapon fire, ostensibly to kill
  • action violence of varying intensities, repeatedly
  • shark consumption of character
  • entire theme based on crime/theft
  • kidnapping

    Impudence/Hate (I) - 4 out of 100
  • three uses of a euphemism for human posterior and two uses of the euphemism for flatulence ("kiddie cussing")
  • child mischief, repeatedly
  • child meanness/disrespect/rudeness/hatefulness, repeatedly
  • song of selfishness
  • unfair advantage to get in front of the line
  • lying to children
  • emotional/verbal cruelty toward children, repeatedly
  • lies, repeatedly
  • child breaking a flask and saying "Somebody broke that"
  • flatulence
  • abuse of child (booting out of a door)

    Sexual Immorality (S) - 74 out of 100
  • statue nudity
  • pelvic thrusts in dance
  • hit to crotch
  • adult character in underwear and in view of children
  • drawing of baby photo nude with specific verbal attention to his posterior
  • photocopying and photocopies of bare posterior, multiple
  • dance moves to draw attention to posterior

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

    Offense to God (O) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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