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Despicable Me 3 Review

June 30, 2017 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Despicable Me 3
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Despicable Me 3 Review  

Directed By: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin and Eric Guillon
Written By: Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio
Runtime: 90 minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for action and rude humor

Steve Carell – Gru/Dru
Kristen Wiig – Lucy
Trey Parker – Balthazar Bratt
Miranda Cosgrove – Margo
Dana Gaier – Edith
Nev Scharrel – Agnes
Pierre Coffin – Minions
Steve Coogan – Fritz/Silas Ramsbottom
Julie Andrews – Gru’s Mom
Jenny Slate – Valerie Da Vinci

Gru and the Minions are back for their latest adventure in Despicable Me 3. Illumination Entertainment has done very well for itself as a production company and created a number of successful animated pictures. With the Despicable Me franchise, the real stars of the show are the Minions, who became a billion-dollar movie franchise on their own with the 2015 Minions prequel. Despicable Me 3 takes things back to Gru and his family, but the Minions are still basically given their own subplot and mini-film of their own.

Despicable Me 3 introduces a new foil for Gru (Carell) in Balthazar Bratt (Parker), a failed child actor-turned-super-villain suffering from a humongous case of mental arrested development, and his whole gimmick is that he’s stuck in the 1980s as his TV alter-ego; when his children’s TV show was in its heyday before he went through puberty. Gru and his special agent wife, Lucy (Wiig) manage to foil Bratt’s latest heist to steal the world’s largest diamond, but Bratt gets away. Unfortunately for Gru and Lucy, their boss, Silas Ramsbottom (Coogan), is soon hastily replaced by his successor, Valerie Da Vinci (Slate), and she promptly fires both Gru and Lucy. But, Gru soon receives word that his estranged father had actually recently passed away, and his long-lost twin brother wishes to meet him. Gru then takes his family to meet his twin brother, the incredibly rich and flamboyant Dru Gru (Carell playing both roles). However, Dru’s hope is to persuade Gru into becoming a super-villain again and inherit their father’s business. Much like Gru was always a disappointment to their mother Marlena (Andrews), Dru was considered a failure to their villain father. As Gru informed the Minions early on before they quit, he’s done with villainy for good. But through Dru, he sees a chance to pull off a heist and get the better of Bratt. As for the Minions, they’ve grown restless and impatient since Gru has left the villain business. Completely fed up, the faction of Minions led by Mel quit working for Gru, and the critters are thrust into their own misadventure.

Despicable Me was not really an animated masterpiece, but it was a cute and generally enjoyable film about a villain learning to love and become a father for three orphaned children. For the most part, the original was well animated and exceptionally executed. Kids love the Minions, who are now plastered over everything. If there is one major mark against the first movie, it was probably that Gru wasn’t that much of a “despicable” villain. The original teaser trailer for the film was built around the heist of a historical landmark that Gru in fact had nothing to do with in the actual story. He was more like a struggling, working-class villain. It just didn’t seem like much of a transition for him. What really drags the story for the third movie is that writers Cinco Paul and Ken Dario seem to have come up with multiple sequel plots and basically mashed them together. As a result, there’s not enough time to really delve into some of plot’s more interesting ideas. It leaves Despicable Me 3 a rather dull, unsatisfying experience.

For starters, the idea of Gru perhaps becoming complacent or fed up with playing the hero and still longing for his days as a villain is interesting. It’s an idea the story sets up but quickly jettisons with the introduction of Gru’s brother. And by the time Dru is introduced as a person who wants Gru to be a instructor in the ways of villainy, Gru isn’t even motivated by that idea. He doesn’t even really seriously entertain the notion. Besides that, most of the film is focused on Gru’s conflict with the villain, Balthazar Bratt. This leaves Gru’s relationship with Dru and the direction of that conflict woefully under-developed. It seems the Bratt story would’ve been better left aside for another film, while the Gru and Dru story was given its own movie to really spread its narrative wings. Lucy is given her own subplot as she tries to adjust to her new role as the mother to Gru’s three adopted daughters: Margo (Cosgrove); Edith (Gaier); and Agnes (Scharrel). That subplot doesn’t really go anywhere. Agnes is desperate to find a real, live unicorn. Margo has some boy problems, and Edith is still the most under-developed character in the franchise. Basically, she’s characterized as the “weird” one and that’s about it. The Minions, led by Mel, have their own little adventure where they go to prison, which is amusing but really doesn’t bring in the best laughs.

That’s another issue with this installment. It’s really not that funny. It’s very bright and colorful. There’s a lot of goofy pratfalls and slapstick. Illumination definitely brings its a game in the terms of eye candy and visuals. Unfortunately, the plot is not just overly busy, it’s seldom all that funny either. Carell has this really exaggerated goofy voice as Felonius Gru, but nothing he really says or does is all that humorous. His take on Gru’s twin brother, Dru, isn’t that much better. Dru is very extravagant and flamboyant, but he doesn’t bring much to the story other than that attitude. His character also adds very few genuine laughs to the sequel either.

Despicable Me 3‘s most amusing gag is probably in the opening act when some rather familiar clown fish, that are clearly meant to represent the lead characters of another major CG motion picture, are run over by Gru’s water-speeder vehicle. It was an obvious and cheap poke at Pixar by Illumination, but it worked. The rest of the movie just doesn’t offer a whole lot in terms of great laughs. Kids will likely enjoy a lot of the humor and the activity of the Minions, and the sequel will likely hold their attention for 90 minutes. But even compared to the first outing, Despicable Me 3 seems to be a sign of the franchise wearing thin.

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
Despicable Me 3 just has too much going on in a crowded story where nothing really sets in. The more interesting ideas are barely explored or serviced by the plot, usually in favor of showing the Minions goofing off or focusing on other subplots that are either resolved quickly or quickly go nowhere. Is this an OK movie for parents to take their kids to at the theaters? Yes. Will kids enjoy the movie, the antics of the Minions and such? Yes, they likely will. However, Despicable Me 3 with its latest sequel has gone from a fairly strong, entertaining franchise to one that's becoming way more lethargic and dull.

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Despicable Me 3, Jeffrey Harris