Now married and settled with his three daughters, Anti-Villain League member Gru is happy tracking down the bad guys and bringing them to justice. However when a forgotten villain and a long-lost family member shows up on the scene, things become complicated.
Directors: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin, Eric Guillon
Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Steve Coogan
Run Time: 90 Minutes
Release Date: Out Now
With two main movies – taking a combined $1.5 billion – and a hugely-successful spinoff – raking in a staggering $1.1 billion on its own – and a sequel to said spinoff in the works (yes, Minions 2 is happening, let’s just accept it on and move on), it seems there is no stopping the Despicable Me franchise. While maybe not appealing for all adults, kids love the antics of Gru and his adorable Minion sidekicks and there appears to be no end in sight for how far this can go.
The third outing in the series returns us to the lives of Gru, his new wife Lucy and their three daughters. Still members of the Anti-Villain League, they quickly come up against a longstanding enemy of Gru; 80s retro bad guy Balthazar Bratt, a failed child TV star looking to relive his villainous ways. References that are sure of go over the heads of younger viewers are quickly thrown about, and there is a fun little sequence between Bratt and Gru early on. As expected, this plot is soon moved to the side to bring in the other main story; the introduction of Gru’s long-unknown brother Dru.
Now, if these were the only two plotlines the film followed, maybe it would end up making a better picture overall. However, while Bratt and Dru are the two main stories, the writers decided to craft several more side-plots that actually end up adding nothing to the movie other than pad out the running time. Inevitably, the Minions get their own story, and in truth, it isn’t as terrible as you may think. What it does do is confirm, should further confirmation be required, that when used in short bursts they are nowhere near as annoying as they were in Minions.
For the actors involved, this must be a pretty easy gig. The jokes are largely the same to tell, and there is no real script encouragement nor reason to push themselves outside of their comfort zone, and it must be a pretty cushy payday. That is not a criticism on the actors, of course, as the work on display is fine. Carell spends some of the movie working with himself due to his roles as Gru and Dru, while Wiig is underused as Lucy. Aside from a couple of ‘protective mother’ scenarios, she is largely ignored in favour of the Dru and Bratt plots. South Park creator Trey Parker comes in as Bratt and brings an energy that the movie desperately needs. Indeed, his interactions with Gru are far and away the highlight of the movie, and it is a shame that the focus was not put more on this than the twin brother and other unnecessary subplots.
A criticism of Despicable Me 2 was that it offered very little to differentiate it from the first film, and the third outing does nothing to change that criticism this time out. Gru is an amusing character, but there is only so far you can take it before it becomes a one-note joke that quickly gets less and less funny. The Minions ceased their entertainment levels before the end of the second film and crushed all hope of a revival into the ground with their own outing, while Wiig’s Lucy – which the voice work for is fine – is not going to hold her own as a strong supporting character. It all adds up to a very average movie that will keep the kids entertained but leave the adults enjoying the 80s-fuelled soundtrack, if nothing else.
All in all, while this movie will inevitably take in a shedload of money and follow up on the tease of a fourth movie, maybe it is time to close the book on the series and allow Illumination to work on something new, something that doesn’t involve cute yellow creatures.