We start at the beginning, with Megamind (Ferrell) and Metro Man (Pitt) flying to earth in their Superman-esque pods. A bounce of fate later and Metro Man gets a happy upbringing with wealthy parents, while his blue-faced rival is brought up in a nearby correctional facility. Back to the present, and the two implacable foes wage their superhero war over Metro City. But, the one-sidedness of their battle makes it all a little sad. Megamind and his spikey fish sidekick Minion (Cross) regularly kidnap news reporter Roxanne Ritchi (Fey) from under the nose of her colleague Hal (Hill), Metro Man saves her and bangs Megamind up in jail. Repeat to fade. Then, somehow it all changes, throwing up something of an existential crisis for our anti-hero. Stuck without a rival, he infuses the hapless Hal with some superpowers, christening him "Tighten" in a bid to reignite the old good/evil fisticuffs, but things don't pan out exactly as planned.
Megamind's bad-guy-with-a-heart-of-gold isn't the most startlingly original character in movie history, but Ferrell voices him with real emotion to win you over from the opening moments. Fey, Cross and especially Pitt succeed by actually playing well-drawn (ahem) parts, rather than animated versions of themselves. Of course, Hill's Hal looks just like him, and his character isn't a million miles away from his usual on-screen persona either. That's a small quibble considering how well-deployed his co-stars are, though, and naturally it's a job he does pretty well.
There are some clever themes about identity, the nature/nurture debate and good guys and bad guys, but you never feel as though the film gets too smart for its own good. There are gigglesome set-pieces, witty sight gags, clever one-liners and references that actually skewer their original source rather than just replicate them for the recognition factor - Megamind's Obama-like 'No You Can't' posters get a laugh every time they pop up on screen. What makes Megamind such a joy is that it never goes through the motions. You can probably hazard a guess at the endpoint from quite early on, but it's a real pleasure getting there.
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