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Despicable Me 3 – Movie Review

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Despicable Me 3 – Movie Review

Rating: B- (Okay)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Universal Pictures

The focus of the Despicable Me franchise has shifted considerably since the first film. What was initially about a villain warming up to a trio of orphans eventually became more about those gibberish-speaking and endlessly marketable Minions. Despicable Me 3 tries to give attention to so many characters, but the final result ends up being a film with inspired bits stitched together in a threadbare story. Despite its lean runtime, the escapade feels long and even the laughs aren’t as consistent as they were in the previous films. Much of Despicable Me 3 is saved by one brilliant and unexpected casting decision.

The second Trey Parker’s voice comes out of former child star Balthazar Bratt’s mouth, it’s hard not to giggle. These laughs will mostly come from South Park fans in the audience, rather than the younger tykes not old enough to watch Parker’s most famous creation. Directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin delight in drenching Bratt in an ‘80s wardrobe and setting, but it’s Parker’s over-the-top vocal performance that makes this villain so memorable. He’s even funnier in flashbacks and clips to Bratt’s old television series with a little bit of Cartman slipping through. Parker is so funny in the role, it only makes the shortcomings of the rest of Despicable Me 3 stand out more.

Gru is now the least interesting character in his own franchise. His arc with his long lost twin brother doesn’t elicit many laughs. The main joke that Dru is a pathetic villain should be clever, but the filmmakers mostly resort to tired slapstick gags. The biggest amusement with Dru comes out of recognizing his home base of Fredonia is a Marx Brothers reference. The Minions are on hand to sing popular tunes in their adorable speak and a good portion of their screen time is spent on prison jokes when they wind up in the slammer. However, this might be the point where Minion fatigue is setting in. They’re still cute little Twinkies, but their movie spin-off might have siphoned off the remaining jokes that could be done with Illumination’s official mascot.

Aside from Bratt, Lucy gets the remaining funny scenes. Kristen Wiig brings a lot of energy to the role and the animators are clearly having fun, especially when she launches into kung fu mode. While not enough screen time is devoted to Lucy connecting with the girls, her scenes are appreciated. The most bizarre and pointless subplot involves Agnes, the youngest girl, going on a search for a unicorn. The script tries to tie this arc in with the other storylines, but just barely. Her subplot and Margo’s seem like they exist to give the girls something to do. Meanwhile, Edith has to make do with what the screenwriters give her, which is not much.

It’s a good thing Trey Parker was invited to add his spark to Despicable Me 3 or this sequel would have been more dreary and laugh-free. There is a bit of amusement and it’s passable enough, but this sequel is a sign of the series trying too hard to balance so many of its participants. Even the joy of the Minions is slowing down. A Despicable Me 4 is likely in the near future, so here’s hoping it has just as inspired a villain. Gru is starting to lose his edge with even his wife stealing the show from under his feet. The two previous films weren’t high-calibre animated movies, but they still had more going on under the surface.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE

Stefan Ellison