Megamind, featuring Will Ferrell as the voice of a chrome-domed, blue-skinned, and rather cuddly supervillain, is the second animated feature this year (after Despicable Me) to be built around a bad guy who is really, deep down, a good guy longing for acceptance. I’m not quite sure what the trend adds up to, but could it be that evil, in kiddie flicks, has finally become innocuous? Considering that Toy Story 3 had one of the great villains of the year (Lotso the bear), I would say no. Megamind is less a satire of dastardly deeds than a nimbly spectacular comedy of ego. Ferrell’s Megamind, who was shot to Earth as an infant à la Superman, is like Dr. Evil crossed with the old Flintstones mascot the Great Gazoo, and Ferrell voices him with an amused, vaguely British superciliousness. (He pronounces Metro City, where the movie is set, so that it rhymes with atrocity.) His rival, Metro Man (Brad Pitt), is a preposterously noble lantern-jawed fusion of Elvis and Mr. Incredible who has a way of always defeating Megamind. Until Megamind finally beats him.
That’s when the movie really takes off. Bored with being on top, Megamind decides to create his own righteous antagonist by infusing special powers into the body of a doltish cameraman (Jonah Hill, who charges the film with gnashing neurotic glee). Both end up vying for the affections of the spunky news babe Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey). Unlike the recent DreamWorks Animation hit How to Train Your Dragon, Megamind is too goofy-surreal to pack a lot of emotional punch, but it’s antically light on its feet, with 3-D images that have a lustrous, gizmo-mad sci-fi clarity. The movie is a burlesque on the layered identities of heroes and villains, who in Megamind share one big thing: They’re all superheroes of self-promotion. B+