DESPICABLE ME 3
Directors: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin, Eric Guillon
Starring: Steve Carell, Kristin Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Julie Andrews, Steve Coogan, Jenny Slate
The Despicable Me series has been innocent entertainment for kids. Illumination Studios has managed to stretch its simple premise into four movies now if you include the Minions spinoff movie. In the latest outing, we find that Gru’s (Carell) days of being the world’s greatest villain are long over. He and his wife Lucy (Wiig) are currently working for the Anti-Villain League only to be kicked out when they fail to capture Balthazar Bratt (Parker). Bratt was once a former teen star in Hollywood in the 80s who saw his hit TV show cancelled too early. Life imitated art when Bratt turned evil much like his famous character. He swore vengeance on Hollywood for canceling his show and ruining his career.
Gru is settling into family life with Lucy, his three daughters, and the gaggle of minions when he receives word of a longtime family secret. Gru learns he has a twin brother named Dru (also voiced by Carell). Gru and his family go visit Dru in his lavish mansion where Dru opens up about wanting to live the villain life like his brother and their father. Gru falls into temptation and joins Dru in his attempt to track down Evil Bratt and find the prized diamond that has been stolen.
The adults in the audience will be happy to know it runs less than 90 minutes. Despite the short time frame, the story feels a bit stretched out with a few other subplots thrown in to fill the movie out. Scribes Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio have been with the franchise from the beginning, and it feels like even they’re running out of ideas. The introduction of Evil Bratt opens the movie and is a great new addition as voiced by South Park’s Trey Parker. While I knew it was coming, it seemed to take too long for his story and diabolical nature to be connected to the Gru/Dru story. There was a point where I debated if Dru was secretly working for Bratt to lure Gru in by posing as a fake brother. Maybe that’s too convoluted for a kid’s movie. The film also takes some time out of that A-plot to give energy to Gru and Lucy’s youngest daughter Agnes who is on the hunt for a unicorn. Again, it falls in that sweet and innocent nature that these movies excel at even though it’s not all that necessary.
The Gru/Dru battle against Evil Bratt plays out like a kid-friendly version of a James Bond or Mission: Impossible style movie with the gadgets, amped up cars, secret underground lairs, and action scenes. Little ones will definitely get a kick out of the shenanigans the two brothers get themselves into. They’ll be impressed with the cool gizmos and will laugh along with the minions who are back up to their old tricks. They are cute in small doses and don’t overstay their welcome in this movie. There’s a funny number where the minions are caught unexpectedly on a TV singing competition and end up performing a song from The Pirates of Penzance. It’s a nod to Illumination’s previous movie Sing from 2016. Kids won’t understand the song, but adults may find it funny if they know Gilbert and Sullivan. More adult laughs will come with the references to the 1980s. Evil Bratt dons a mullet, mustache, and some wicked shoulder pads in his purple suit. His weapon of choice is a keytar, and his little army of dolls is named the Bratt Pack. Get it?
I would say this is the best in this franchise since the first Despicable Me. There’s just enough creativity with Evil Bratt and the goofy minions to warrant some audible laughs throughout. It’s lovely to hear Julie Andrew back voicing Gru’s mom, and Trey Parker has fun with Evil Bratt. Pharrell Williams is back with some new songs. He was nominated for an Oscar for “Happy”, which was featured in Part 2. The end of Despicable Me 3 leaves it open for another entry in this franchise. Is it needed? No, but they could crank out more spy type stories fairly easily if they wanted to keep this going.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Mindless entertainment for the kids that won’t totally annoy their parents.
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS