Third time’s a charm for Gru and his trusty minions as he faces off against a mulleted super villain.
It’s hard to deny the success of Universal’s Despicable Me franchise, now on it’s third outing, and with a hugely successful Minions spin-off under their belt as well, they’re snapping at the proverbial heels of blockbuster Jurassic World in terms of the studio’s most profitable flicks.
Parents might be suffering from “minion-fatigue” but kids still lap up the antics of the gibberish-spouting sidekicks and the villain-now-good-guy Gru plus his adorable adopted kids. In Despicable Me 2 we were introduced to the woman who was finally able to make an honest man of Gru, and in this third installment, the family is about to get even bigger with the introduction of Gru’s twin brother, Dru, also voiced by Steve Carell.
Whereas the second film overdid the minions a little and neglected the family dynamic, Despicable Me 3 manages to get just the right balance, and the banana-loving sidekicks are quite rightly relegated back down to being side characters again. As a result there is far more opportunity for more of what made the first one so great; ridiculously wacky action scenes, heists, and tons of adorable moments from unicorn-obsessed Agnes (newcomer Nev Scharrel, who replaces Elsie Fisher).
In these moments, Despicable Me 3 is at it’s strongest and the zany, over the top humour and action scenes never disappoint. The new villain, Balthazar Bratt (voiced by Trey Parker), is maybe the best one we’ve seen yet. A former child star of an 80s TV show, Bratt is still very much stuck in the decade in which he made his name. Resplendent in shoulder pads and a mullet, and with his preferred weapons of choice being bubblegum and a keytar, this character is out-there enough to make the kids laugh, but there’s also some neat nostalgic nods that the parents should appreciate as well.
Plotwise, Despicable Me 3 is a little on the messy side, and whilst this wouldn’t be an issue for its target audience, it is a little frustrating for everybody else. Subplots are started and then either end unsatisfactorily, or are so inconsequential that they just end up being a little forgettable. Kristen Wiig as Lucy is criminally underused, and whilst there’s still a handful of touching moments, there is a huge missed opportunity to really make the most of her character’s struggles with motherhood and the bonding moments with the kids. This isn’t entirely absent, but it always feels like more could’ve been made of it.
At times, it feels like it is trying to do a little too much and at times feels like there is far too many things going on. Simultaneously running plot threads on Gru and Dru’s brotherly bonding, Bratt’s attempts to build a giant robot, the minions breaking out of prison, Lucy’s struggles with motherhood, and Agnes’ quest to find a unicorn, it feels a little cluttered and somewhat exhausting in places.
Overall though, this is an enjoyable family film and a definite improvement on Despicable Me 2 and Minions, and most importantly, the kids will absolutely love it. It’s silly but you’ll still laugh and so will the kids, and neither of you will feel bad about it! Whether you love them or loathe them, Gru and his minions are still very much taking over the world.