After the first two Despicable Me films, I was sure that the filmmakers could do no wrong. Both were joyous, sweet, funny and immensely appealing films that I simply loved. Despicable Me 3 is the latest installment and so far the most disappointing. It is still a cute and wholesome film but the initial charm has worn a bit in the latest film. I say this as a true fan of this franchise, but I also have to be honest.
Despicable Me 3 starts out showing that Gru and Lucy are now married (we knew that at the end of the second film) and living happily in Gru’s darkened mansion. The “gurls” are elated to have a family as are the beloved minions so what or who could possibly ruin all of this? Balthazar Bratt (voiced by Trey Parker of South Park fame) is one such man. Once a heartthrob of the 80’s with his own show, Balthazar faded into oblivion when puberty invaded him. Pimple-faced and a voice-change that bordered on shrieking, Balthazar disappeared. He now has emerged, 80’s dance moves and all, to steal a priceless pink diamond. To help thwart Bratt’s plans, Gru and family enlist his long-lost brother, Dru to help. Dru (also voiced by Steve Carell) has a full head of flowing blond hair, but other than that he is a carbon copy of Gru, with only a little more deviousness than Gru has.
This premise for Despicable Me 3 is so far pretty good. It has some laughs, the minions are spot on, the “gurls” and family are all entertaining but something is missing. There is not one single problem this film has except that it seems to be wearing a bit thin. Some of the comedic bits in the first two films were quite extraordinary and really seemed quite inspired. Here, it is merely cute. The actors are all on cue and I did laugh quite a bit but this is a franchise that needs some new blood infused into it. This is not the raucously, laugh-inducing film the first two were. To make matters worse, Steve Carell has said this would be his last Despicable Me film with his voice as Gru. He has stated he would return to do cameos for any future minion films, but that is all. Considering how flat the Minions Movie was, I wouldn’t be holding my breath for another one of those and I really do love those cute minions.
I know it sounds like I didn’t like Despicable Me 3, but I did. Just not the way I had hoped for. There is a lot to like in Despicable Me 3. The animation is stunning to look at and the energetic pacing of this film means you will not be bored. Trey Parker was a good choice to voice Bratt and he does a fine job being the villain. The direction by Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin and Eric Guillon are decent as is the script by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio (who wrote the original Despicable Me). The one thing these two writers have in common is that they also penned the script to Bubble Boy with the then-unknown Jake Gyllenhaal but I won’t hold that against them. The score by Heitor Pereira and Pharrell Williams is also admirable. I just wish the filmmakers had taken some chances, here. It is a missed opportunity, but not a disaster. There is still a good number of things for the entire family to enjoy with Despicable Me 3. That is what counts.
Despicable Me 3 – *** out of 5
Despicable Me 3 – Rated PG for comic book violence
Despicable Me 3 – Runtime is 90 minutes
Despicable Me 3 is now available on DVD, On Demand and subscription services. Check your area for pricing and availability.