June 30, 2017

Despicable Me 3

You mean we have to make
another of these whaaaa?!

Grade: C –
Directors: Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda
Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, and Miranda Cosgrove
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hr. 30 min.

The Despicable Me franchise is a testament to the axiom “less is more.” Erstwhile ├╝ber-villain Gru and crew were goofily charming through two films, then came the short films, and the video games, and the books, and the theme park rides. The yellow, pill-shaped Minions were the darlings of the first Despicable Me, then the animatronic Twinkies dulled us with overload in their own spinoff (which, for some godforsaken reason, is set for a sequel in three years).
In Despicable Me 3, the Minions are consigned back to the role of Greek chorus, popping up occasionally for what amount to intra-film music videos. The excess this time is reserved for two things. The first is 1980s nostalgia, under the guise of baddie du jour Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), an embittered former child actor who grows into a moonwalking, walkman toting, mullet sporting villain who vows revenge on Hollywood armed with his old TV catchphrase, “I’m been a bad boy!” It’s a cute premise, until directors Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda blast “Sussudio,” Van Halen’s “Jump,” and Michael Jackson “Bad,” all during just the cold open. There’s a lot where that came from.

The other is Gru (Steve Carell), who learns through the laziest of plot contrivances that he has a long-lost twin brother, Dru (a slightly more dandy Carell). A little of Carell’s Slavic inflections goes a long way, particularly when doubled as a wealthy, carefree, flaxen-haired doofus. When Gru and Lucy are fired from their jobs with the Anti-Villain League, Gru accepts Dru’s invitation to teach him the family villain business, even though Gru’s true aim is eventually earning back his reputable job.

Gru wants to be a brother, the Minions want a despicable leader, and Lucy wants to be a mom to Gru’s three kids, including Agnes, who just wants a unicorn. If those plot points sound ill-fitting, you’re right. Despicable Me 3 is a senseless, sloppy sequel. There are times when it seems to be grasping for a slipshod knockoff of The Incredibles. The only thing that’s incredible about this cash grab is its inevitable box office haul.

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