Directed by Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin
Starring Steve Carrell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Jenny Slate, Julie Andrews, Steve Coogan
How much more can Despicable Me offer on their third run at Gru personal development storylines and minions gone mad? Not too much, unfortunately, but children will continue to love it regardless. Mercifully for the adults, we have a new villain in the delectably evil 80’s child star gone mad, Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), whose deliverance unto Despicable Me 3 is welcome respite. D M3 is definitely one for the kids, while parents will merely endure it.
Introducing more characters to the family once again, this time around we meet Gru’s (Steve Carrell) long lost twin brother, Dru (also Carrell), differing from Gru in many ways bar the obvious physicality, and subsequent sibling taunts, rivalry and hilarity ensues. It’s another turn at a familiar formula, with Gru and Lucy (Kristen Wiig) navigating parenting and family while working together at the AVL until they encounter a roadblock in the form of super villain Balthazar Bratt. In Parker’s first turn at a children’s movie, Bratt feels an awful lot like fodder for the adults/parents forced to co-watch another foray into the well-worn Despicable Me/minion franchise. Delightfully nostalgic in his design, we can forgive the repetitive nature of the film overall in favour of Parker’s super fun vocal performance, Bratt’s fantastic visual design and the toe tapping 80’s musical score that he allows.
It’s cute, of course, and we all love slapstick minion comedy, but that overplayed card is the only real saviour for D M3, and it’s sorely lacking. Minions getting tattooed in prison, and some hilarious finger-snapping moments aside, the magic and wonder of the first two is missing. Moments such as those first forays into Gru’s parenthood, his arc from villain to working father, the relationship development between Lucy and Gru, the growth of the family, and the joy of minion love are what initially won us over. And that’s where this one goes wrong. The minions are the heart of the Despicable Me series, and yet their screen time is sorely lacking. Their brief appearances are the only saviour for an otherwise largely forgettable, repetitive film. Minions in prison, though? That’s some funny material, and you’ll be left yearning for more.
Missing the purity and zany fantasy of the first two, there’s still a lot of fun to be had, particularly by younger crew. We still get time to love the ageless children, and particularly the eternally adorable Agnes (now voiced by a younger vocal artist in Nev Scharrel), and her obsession with unicorns. The score is full of beautifully reminiscent 80’s moments, from Michael Jackson to Van Halen, and once again features Pharrell Williams’ signature uplifting beats.
There’s nothing new here, and it’s all a bit predictable, but why would Universal change a formula that has proven to be their most profitable? It’s not ground breaking by any stretch, but still a fun family movie, and a great way to kill a couple of hours over the school holidays.