"Despicable Me 3"
Release Date: June 30, 2017
Running Time: 96 minutes
A sure sign of franchise fatigue? The introduction of a twin sibling whose presence is intended to push the franchise’s protagonist out of his comfort zone. This is the case with Despicable Me 3, which unites villain-turned-hero Gru with the handsome, wealthy twin brother Dru he never knew he had. Both are voiced by Steve Carell, although the difference in their Russian-accented voices is so subtle that it’s hard to distinguish one twin from the other. The upbeat Dru may be a success but he doesn’t quite possess Gru’s life experience or (however dubious) accomplishments, which manifests itself in a slight lack of self-assurance in Dru’s interchanges with Gru. Dru wants Gru to teach him the family ways in villainy. Gru doesn’t want to go back to his old ways, even if it would mean making his dissatisfied Minions very happy. He’s down in the dumps after he and his wife Lucy—voiced again by the oddly ineffective Kristen Wiig—lose their jobs with the Anti-Villain League (AVL) after failing to capture the stuck-in-the-1980s diamond thief Balthazar Bratt (voiced by South Park’s Trey Parker). Dru’s criminal ambitions, though, provide Gru with the incentive he needs to try to get back his and Lucy’s jobs. Bringing Dru into the fold may give Gru a new set of challenges to deal with as a family man, but it also pushes Lucy into the background and turns Bratt into an afterthought. Lucy is given very little to do other than to refine her new role as the mother to Dru’s three adorable daughters, Margo, Edith and Agnes. Sure, Lucy’s involved in the climatic confrontation with Bratt, but only in relation to her developing maternal instincts. To be honest, Despicable Me 3 could have spent more valuable time on Lucy’s efforts to bond with her the kids than bring Dru into the franchise. Perhaps less of Bratt is more. Once a famous TV child star of the 1980s, the adult Bratt cannot get past the untimely cancellation of his hit show Evil Bratt, which featured him as a preteen supervillain with the catchphrase, “I’ve been a bad boy!” It is a catchphrase that Bratt repeats ad nauseam in Despicable Me 3; it is somewhat amusing the first time Parker drops it but is tiresome the third or fourth time it’s employed. On the other hand, directors Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda lock Bratt into a time capsule of his own making that showcases the best and the worst of the 1980s to amusing and engaging effect. There are dance fights, episodes of Bratt’s TV show that definitely have a cheesy 1980s feel to them, and a climax that is inspired in part by the ending of one of the famous comedy blockbusters of that decade. Parker, though, is disappointingly restrained as Bratt. This, to some extent, softens the decision to make Bratt’s rivalry with Gru of lesser importance than Gru’s relationship with Dru. The scene-stealers of Despicable Me 3—and the franchise, for that matter—are the Minions. These mischievous but well-intentioned yellow doddles are the heart and soul of this franchise, and were deserving of their own 2015 prequel. They spend most of Despicable Me 3 separated from Gru, so they set off on their own little adventure while Gru deals with Dru and Bratt. Their subplot produces many big laughs and also deepens the bond between them and Gru despite their lack of interaction. To be honest, if this franchise is to continue, it lies with the Minions and not Gru, Lucy and their daughters (Minions 2 is already scheduled for July 3, 2019). Gru’s evolution from villain to family man runs its course in Despicable Me 3 and it confirms it is time to move on from Gru. The end credits, which offers a nice spin on the opening credits of The Pink Panther sequels, finds Gru at his most joyful and therefore offers the closure we all need.
Aired: June 29, 2017
Web site: http://www.despicable.me