Despicable Me 3, 2017.
Directed by Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin, and Eric Guillon.
Featuring the voice talents of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Pierre Coffin, Trey Parker, Steve Coogan, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel, Jenny Slate, Julie Andrews, and Russell Brand.
Gru meets his long-lost charming, cheerful, and more successful twin brother Dru who wants to team up with him for one last criminal heist.
There’s a tender moment in Despicable Me 3 (the latest entry in the franchise from Illumination’s Christopher Meledandri, voice of the mischievously cute Minions and co-director Pierre Coffin, and director Kyle Balda) where Gru (a once again returning Steve Carell) tells his young daughter that “sometimes you expect to find a unicorn but instead get a goat, and that’s life”. Well, much like how goats can actually be adorable, Despicable Me 3 can be another charming burst of fun inside the gadget-infested scene of superheroes and villains. It’s a whirlwind of numerous subplots vying for more exploration and attention without anything meaningful to say within each isolated story, but it makes for a pleasant, visually impressive time at the movies.
Easily the most entertaining and magnetic creation for this iteration of the nefarious shenanigans on display is Balthazar Bratt, a top-notch thief of exquisite diamonds and other rare treasures thanks to never getting over a salty bitterness from his 80’s childhood television series being canceled due to developing grotesque acne alongside other downer puberty effects. This set Bratt on the path of assuming the identity of his villainous alter ego in real life, utilizing the same gadgets depicted in the cheesy show like bubblegum guns.
What truly makes the character fascinating however is the voiceover performance from South Park co-creator Trey Parker; he has mentally never left the 80s, boasting his own curated selection of classic songs from the era’s one-hit wonders (I’m not sure what it says about me that this animated feature has one of my favorite licensed soundtracks of the year), often grooving along to his evil doings. Even the ending involves a dance-off fight, and it’s, as expected, hilarious. Also, for those wondering what the hell the mind behind arguably one of the most offensive cartoon creations on the planet is doing in a child-friendly feature, well, Bratt actually does have a few parallels to the real-life personality of the icon, such as his hatred for Hollywood, but it’s better left not knowing everything and simply uncovering things for one’s self. It didn’t take long for it to become crystal clear that Trey Parker was perfect casting for the role. It’s also unmistakably Trey Parker, channeling his work on the near twenty-year running animated series.
When Bratt is offscreen, Despicable Me 3, unfortunately, falls into mediocre territory. The much-advertised reunion between Gru’s brother Dru (also voiced by Steve Carell) actually makes the movie feel like filler for the fourth entry. Dru attempts to convince Gru back to the dark side, except it’s all underdeveloped and somewhat slapped together. The best part about all of this, however, is that audiences do get to see Steve Carell embrace the villainy side of the character that has disappeared since Gru decided to work for an anti-villain organization.
Speaking of that, Gru gets fired from the respectable job, to which even the minions see as an opportunity to goad him back into a life of crime. Rather humorously, all of the Twinkie-shaped devils are unceremoniously relieved of their duties save for two loyal followers that get a promotion. What ensues is the minions getting caught up in an adventure of their own taking them through prison, and although the scenes are very funny and creative, it also feels like a distraction from the main plot. The same goes for Kristen Wiig’s Lucy struggling with Gru to learn the ins and outs of parenting. These are all good ideas on paper, but in execution the result is Despicable Me 3 being disjointed with little direction. It’s surprising because it’s obvious that Universal is going to greenlight more of these features, so there’s really no need to cram as many themes as possible into one narrative.
For as all over the place as Despicable Me 3 is, it zips by without a boring moment. If anything, it’s a hodgepodge collection of moments designed to appease and give the people what they want. The franchise isn’t necessarily running out of bubblegum ammunition either, as it’s definitely a rewarding achievement that the feature leaves audiences with anticipation for the next chapter. Let’s just hope Trey Parker’s Balthazar Bratt also returns to steal the movie away from Steve Carell like a rare diamond.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★