When you stumble upon something cute, you want to milk it for all it's worth. That's why the internet was built on animal videos and babies biting their brothers' fingers. As long as you have a beating heart in that fat husk you call a body, you will never get tired of viewing just one more cat hunting a laser pointer.
The people at Illumination Entertainment know this better than anyone. After two films (not including that Minions spin-off movie) and plastering their Minion mascots on everything from lunchboxes to diaper covers, the studio has finally released a third film to their seven-year-old franchise.
But does this sequel go down the Shrek the Third route (where it becomes stale like a bag of onions), or does it move audiences like Toy Story 3 (in that it pays homage to its ageing viewers)?
This one is more like the former. While it takes an extreme lack of
effort to create a stinker like Shrek the
Third, Despicable Me 3 remains
true to the franchise while finding enough room to slightly distinguish itself from
After failing to stop former child star turned bad guy Balthazar Bratt, reformed villain Gru and his wife Lucy return home to find that he has a long-lost brother with hair enough for two people.
Deciding to visit his missing sibling, Gru discovers that his brother
Dru wants to be tutored in the acts of villainy - something he never got around
to while raising a pig farm and keeping his hair follicles alive. Though he has
exchanged his evil laugh for even more villainous dad jokes, it's hard for Gru
to say no to just one more chance to get back at Bratt's out-of-date mullet.
If you want twists instead of a straightforward narrative, you shouldn't be looking for them in a children's movie. Though the plot of Despicable Me 3 is straighter than unwatered whiskey, it has enough time to indulge in side stories that give further insight to its characters.
While Dru and Gru's brotherhood bonding takes center stage, Lucy's struggles with her newfound motherhood, Agnes' hunt for a unicorn, and the minions' abandonment of Gru all tie nicely into the revolving theme of family that is at the heart of the franchise.Make no mistake: this is a family movie through and through (that's why I'm not using any cuss word dirtier than "butt" in this review). Kids will like the lowbrow humor and the infectious cuteness of Gru's walking Tic Tac employees, but there are quite a few jokes that were meant for a much older, balder audience.
Case in point: the main villain. Voiced by South Park co-creator Trey Parker, Balthazar Bratt is probably the most interesting antagonist the series has had since Steve Carell decided to give a nasal rendition of a supervillain's voice.
It's not how he delivers his lines or his acting (that doesn't work in a
cartoon movie, for some reason), but almost everything about Bratt is an
outdated 80s reference. The Phil Collins songs, the keytar, and especially the
mullet haircut are things young millennials have not and should not experience.
These nostalgic mementos find a resting home in this movie by poking fun at the
ever-present age gap between children and their parents.ÃÂ
Despicable Me 3 successfully avoids
getting stuck in a repetitive sequel rut by adding a unique villain and
focusing on a different aspect of family: brotherhood. It doesn't do anything
particularly new with the franchise, but the fact that it is accessible to
people who haven't watched the previous outings makes it more enticing than
having to watch Frozen for the
hundredth time with your kids.
Yet even with these nods to an era gone by, there are enough laughs for all ages by way of unrecycled, clean humor and the appropriate use of licensed songs in scenes that fit them. There are a couples of issues, such as the fleeting use of Julie Andrews' voice as the secret agency's director and Dru being little more than an excuse for Steve Carell to ask for a higher pay grade, but they don't distract from what is generally a fun family movie.