REVIEW: Despicable Me 3
Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda
By Christopher Spencer
Despicable Me 3 is the latest animated movie from Illumination Entertainment, and stars Steve Carrell, Kristen Wiig and Trey Parker. The third Despicable Me movie finds Gru (Carrell) discovering he has a twin brother named Dru (also Carrell), who is quite different to Dru. Underscoring it all is new villain Balthazar Bratt (Parker), hell-bent on plunging the world into his 80s-nostalgia version of domination.
The Despicable Me franchise is admirable that it turned a smaller animation studio into one of the premiere giants of the industry, taking smaller budgets than Pixar or Dreamworks movies, marketing them beyond imagination, and thus turning out billions in profit. The first movie was a fun, nice adventure about a villain learning to be good thanks to children. The second started the trend that has made these movies quite annoying: making the Minions more and more the central comedy. That is why Minions (2015) was such cheap, greedy stupid nonsense, because we never needed that. Despicable Me 3 still falls into the trap of its predecessor.
Though the Minions are underplayed in the first act, they soon start to take over more and more as the movie goes on, and the bigger their presence, the less funny they become. And why do they keep becoming bigger and bigger points of the story? Because the rest of Despicable Me 3 is just not that much.
Despicable Me 3 does feature the same unique brand of almost-Expressionist animation that is trademark to these movies, as well as a few laughs here and there, but they mainly come from Trey Parker’s Balthazar Bratt. Balthazar is this bright, shining highlight of the whole movie, taking the vocal versatility that Parker has made riches from with South Park, pumping it up with goofy 80s obsession, and resulting in a hilarious character that I wanted so much more of. Also there is a unicorn-goat that made me laugh the most just because it’s a tiny, adorable goat that screams. ‘Nuff said.
Despicable Me 3 has major problems that are found in all other Illumination animated movies after the first Despicable Me in 2011. Its story is trying to do 7 things at once, the pacing feels like eating 1,000 skittles, the bulk of the humour is lame sight gags that only entertain kids, and while there is a little sweetness to some characters, it is constantly sidetracked by generic story that has zero surprises whatsoever. I may not have liked Cars 3 too much, but it still had one or two new things I did not expect up its sleeve.
Despicable Me 3 doesn’t do anything new or special with Gru, Lucy or their three daughters, is at times annoying, distractingly predictable, and is a pure kids movie.
Audiences who still watch Nickelodeon will have a blast, but most over 18 are not going to see something truly worth remembering from Despicable Me 3 in the years to come.