Despicable Me 3 2017
Directed by Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin, Eric Guillon
Featuring the vocal talents of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Pierre Coffin, Trey Parker, Steve Coogan and Julie Andrews.
Former super villain, now super spy, Gru loses his job when former child TV star Balthazar Bratt steals the biggest diamond in the world. His usually faithful Minions desert him as well, so he needs to get his reputation and his job back. Help comes in the unlikely form of Dru – the cheerful twin brother he never knew he had. Except that their father never thought much of Dru when it came to being a villain…
Three isn’t always the proverbial magic number. Some movie trilogies have plenty left in the tank by the time they clock up their third instalment – think Toy Story, Lord of the Rings and Back to the Future – but many have faltered at hurdle number three. Some never returned, while others were given a re-boot to preserve the franchise.
For the guys behind Despicable Me 3, three is a crucial number. One and two were huge hits: the sequel came in 2013 and in the four years since then, the Minions plugged the gap with their own movie in 2015. It was another success, but demonstrated they needed to be with Gru to be at their best. You’d think the team would have learnt from that but, judging from this latest instalment, they haven’t.
Plot has never been a huge priority with this series. Not that it’s ever been an issue, but you don’t expect a franchise that built itself on creative villainy and yellow sparks of imagination to fall back on an old stand-by like a long-lost twin brother. They do. Gru’s twin is Dru (both voiced by Steve Carell) and, unlike his billiard ball-headed brother, he has a mop of floppy, Boris style hair. And as a cheerful, easy-going sort of guy, he’s also a dead loss when it comes to villainy, even though he wants to be as good as his brother. Well, he would, wouldn’t he? Their adversary this time round is a former child TV star Balthazar Bratt (voiced by Trey Parker), who wants revenge on Hollywood for his ruined career. He’s also a walking throwback to the 80s, with mullet and shoulder pads. Cue music from the decade for the benefit of the mums and dads in the audience: Dire Straits, Van Halen, Michael Jackson.
And that’s about it. Lucy (voiced by Kristen Wiig) has now married Gru and she’s preoccupied with being accepted by the children. The youngest of the girls, Agnes (the voice of Nev Sharrel) is obsessed with finding a unicorn and, inevitably, there’s some set pieces from the Minions. They’ve walked out on Gru almost en masse, which means they end up in some odd situations which manage raise a laugh or two. Like a TV talent competition, where they deliver their own version of Gilbert and Sullivan and win hands down. It’s funny, but hang on! Didn’t Illumination give us Sing at the start of the year? It’s the same idea. The best sequence is when they’re in prison, getting themselves banana tattoos and generally running the joint. Yellow Is The New Black, dontcha know……
But even these usually enchanting little fellas aren’t given enough in the way of originality to lift the film completely out of the hole it’s dug for itself. They get close, but their appearances are too few and it’s descended too far. Occasional attempts at quick-fire visual gags don’t help much either. Ultimately, it all bears more than a passing resemblance to the punctured giant bubble gum towards the end. It’s deflated. Gru is too settled and comfortable and now we have a franchise that’s simply become complacent.
Which is sad. With all the affection surrounding the first two in the series, fans will be looking forward to this and the last thing they’ll want is a let-down. But that’s what they’re going to get.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★