In this spunky 3D cartoon, Gru (voiced by Steve Carrell) is an accomplished thief with a very large need to be recognized as special. He zooms around town in a tank-like vehicle and lives in a mansion with Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), a madcap inventor, and hundreds of "minions," cute little yellow creatures who like to play while they labor away for Gru and his oversized ego. When a major competitor named Vector (Jason Segel) pulls off a major steal of a pyramid from Egypt, the protagonist knows there's trouble on the horizon.

Gru comes up with the most gigantic theft of all time: he wants to steal the moon! To do so, he needs loans from an imperious banker, a shrink-ray device from Vector, and the unsuspecting help of three little orphan girls who manage to get into his competitor's armed fortress by selling him cookies. The three little girls are Edith (Dana Gaier), Agnes (Elsie Fisher), and Margo (Miranda Cosgrove). When he adopts them for his own nefarious purposes, the snooty Miss Hattie (Kristen Wiig), the head of the orphanage, is glad to see them go since they are such an odd trio of independent little girls.

Directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin do a fine job making use of 3D in this animated feature. The key to the film's uniqueness lies in the imaginative characters created by writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio from a story by Sergio Pablos. Here they have taken a cue from Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki and set aside the battle between the good guys and the bad guys. Instead this story shows that it is possible for a nasty person to be transformed into a loving adult by following the whispering of his heart.

Steve Carell works his magic as Gru whose yearning for fame and glory is the result of being ignored and stifled as a boy by his highly critical mother (Julie Andrews). The three orphan girls help him see that it is the little things in life which give pleasure and keep the spark of play and creativity alive in us all.