Despicable Me 3 might still lack some of the charm of the original, but there’s enough fun and mayhem to suggest the franchise isn’t on fumes yet.
Gru (Steve Carrell) and Lucy (Kristen Wiig) get placed on an unwanted hiatus from the Ant-Villain League after failing to capture the formidable Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker). Bratt is a former childhood TV star turned ruthless retro supervillain. He’s one of the fun new additions to the franchise thanks to his penchant for playing mega hits from the 80s and gimmick weapons including expanding bubble gum and a Rubik’s Cube.
After vowing not to return to villainy, Gru is at a loss for his next career path until his previously unknown twin brother Dru shows up. Initially thrown off by Dru’s success and luxurious hair, Gru soon discovers they have more in common than he thought. And some personality traits just run in the family.
Lucy actually gets her own fun subplot as she gets more stepmom moments with Margo, Edith and Agnes. Gru got his moments to learn how to be a father in the first film so there’s a nice element of this coming full circle with Lucy. Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio’s script smartly doesn’t reduce Lucy’s role to being the stay at home spy mom as she gets plenty of butt kicking moments as well. The girls all get smaller subplots with Agnes once again vying to be the most precocious animated child ever.
Giving Gru a twin brother was a creative way to reinvigorate the franchise, which seemed like it was on its last leg after the Minions spin-off. Dru is just goofy enough to be endearing without becoming an annoyingly unwelcome addition to the cast. This comes somewhat at the expense of a staple of the series.
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Some familiar characters have significantly reduced roles while others are written out entirely. That provides a certain sense of freshness to this film while setting up options for future installments. If any aspect of Despicable Me 3 comes off as stale it’s the use of the Minions. After three films, shorts and a feature film, there’s not a lot of fresh areas to take the yellow coverall clad army short of having them talk in English.
As usual, the animation is excellent with ridiculously zany action scenarios. That’s been a trademark of the series and that never disappoints providing plenty of laugh out loud moments for all ages. The soundtrack was fine, but it felt somewhat overbearing as Pharell Williams kept trying to find another Happy.
Despicable Me 3 doesn’t reinvent the franchise, but proves there’s plenty of fun and wackiness left and more than enough creativity left for future installments.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Photo Credit: Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures