There seems to be an expectation that in order for Megamind to be good, it must also be funny. Maybe it’s the presence of Will Ferrell as the voice of the movie’s title character, maybe it’s the still lingering feeling that no matter how far animated movies have come, they’re still just fancy Looney Tunes. Whatever the reason, whenever Megamind comes up, the only question anyone ever seems to have for me is whether or not it’s funny. Well here’s the answer: Not really. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t good.

What Megamind lacks in apparent laughter it makes up for in sheer cleverness. Megamind sums himself up pretty well late in the movie when he defines the difference between a villain and a super villain as “showmanship”, right before walking out of a massive flying, glowing, glob of robots turned disco balls to the tune of Guns n’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle.” Every time Megamind is on screen, and he’s on screen a lot, something clever happens. Whether it’s his random mispronunciation of words or some strange visual element going on with his robots in the background behind him, there’s never a dull moment when Megamind is around. At least not for the audience, anyway. Megamind’s view of his own world is very different.

Raised in a prison and bullied by other children at an early age, Megamind eventually discovers that the only thing he’s good at is being bad. Yet even there he fails, time and again, thwarted by his arch nemesis Metro Man, protector of Metro City (or Metrocity as Megamind calls it). Megamind doesn’t seem to mind losing, prisons can’t hold him and it’s the contest of wills between he and Metro which really keeps him going. Except early on in the film, Megamind creates a problem for himself. See he wins. Even he didn’t expect it, but he does, and suddenly he’s in charge of the city and there’s no one left to contest him. He gets bored, very bored and the movie begins to explore what a super villain’s supposed to do after he’s top dog. There are only so many banks to rob.

Megamind robs all of them yet at some the movie turns into a love story while the prototypical evil mastermind gradually becomes something else. The script’s good, and the movie takes its time about where it’s going, allowing Megamind’s development feels natural and in a weird way, you get to understand what the guy with the baby seal skin boots is all about. Along the way it’s packed with action and since this is an animated film, they don’t have to scale back on the special effects the way every live action superhero movie eventually must. Megamind is smart and flat out entertaining with eye-popping action, sharp animation, and 3D which actually does something besides give everyone in the audience a headache. It has funny moments, but it’s not a comedy, it’s just a great time at the movies. This isn’t a Pixar movie, it’s not by any means as good as The Incredibles, but director Tom McGrath and his team have still managed to make something surprisingly smart, entertaining, visually interesting and yeah ok, occasionally funny, out of what could have been a throwaway concept watered down for kids.

Josh Tyler