Mark Reviews Movies

Despicable Me 3


2 ˝ Stars (out of 4)

Directors: Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin

Cast: The voices of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel, Pierre Coffin, Steve Coogan, Julie Andrews, Jenny Slate

MPAA Rating: PG (for action and rude humor)

Running Time: 1:30

Release Date: 6/30/17

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Review by Mark Dujsik | June 30, 2017

Gru (voice of Steve Carell), the bad guy with a heart of gold, finally comes into his own, and it only took three tries to figure it out. Despicable Me 3 sees that likable anti-hero with the unidentifiable Eastern European accent return to a life of crime. Well, he kind of returns to the life, as much as the father of three orphans who has recently married his partner in anti-villainy can. He was never really much of a villain, anyway.

The setup is that he's going to rob somebody. The item in his sights is the world biggest diamond, and his target is poor wretch who was once a child star of television and who hasn't recovered from what puberty did his show's ratings. The poor guy still wears his hair in a weird sort of flattop mullet, which does at least cover the noticeable bald spot on the back of his head. He's stuck in the past, living amongst items and to a soundtrack of songs from the 1980s. The only thing that seems to give him comfort is when he has the chance to shout out his catchphrase.

OK, I'm being a bit dishonest here. The once-famous TV star is a bona fide villain, and Gru wants to steal the diamond, which the baddie stole twice already, so that he can get back in the good graces of the Anti-Villain League and go back to capturing bad guys.

Yes, Gru's days of actual crime are finished. The Minions in particular are upset about this, and they walk out of their boss' life. Ardent fans of the little, yellow evolutionary jokes will be upset to learn that the Minions are placed in the background here. Hopefully, some of those fans will come to realize that's where the Minions belong in these movies, because some of the material involving them is pretty funny when they aren't pushed into the forefront of a movie that isn't their story (When the little guys end up in prison, they form a gang that steps and snaps its way through the halls as if they had been choreographed by Jerome Robbins).

Let's get back to Gru, though. He has settled down considerably. He's still the father to those three former orphans: the sensible Margo (voice of Miranda Cosgrove), the troublemaking Edith (voice of Dana Gaier), and the unicorn-obsessed Agnes (voice of Nev Scharrel). He has married Lucy (voice of Kristen Wiig), and the two of them work together for the AVL. Everything is going fine until Balthazar Bratt (voice of Trey Parker, whose vocal talents oddly have gone unutilized by Hollywood until now), the former TV star, shows up to steal the diamond.

Gru recovers the diamond, but Bratt escapes. As a result, Gru is fired from the AVL, and Lucy, standing by her man, gets pushed out of the zeppelin headquarters with him (with a parachute, of course, since the organization is against villainy).

The big news this time around is that Gru has a twin brother named Dru (also voiced by Carell). It seems that Gru's father didn't die of disappointment with him, as Gru's mother (voice of Julie Andrews) has been telling him for years. No, he had been raising Dru in a castle in Freedonia (There's nothing wrong with a good Marx Brothers reference). Dru wanted to be a villain like his dear, old dad. Like Gru, though, Dru was a disappointment to the single parent that raised him. Dru, Gru's warm and enthusiastic polar opposite, wants his newfound brother to teach him how to be a master criminal.

This relationship helps to make the main character fun for once. He's not the mopey, vaguely misanthropic villain that he started as, and there's little of the sentimentality that forcefully has made him into some kind of hero. Gru is somewhere in between in this installment—selfish enough to use Dru to get what he wants but still compassionate enough to actually form a bond with his long-lost brother. He rediscovers the thrill of a good crime, even one done for good (although he helps his brother steal candy from the local town, resulting in an amusing chase with some bike cops who trade their rides for an unlikely mode of transportation halfway through).

This might be the most compelling story in the series, but unfortunately, it's not the only story in this movie. Lest anyone forget, there's still the matter of Lucy and the orphans, who are completely out of place here. Screenwriters Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio know this and don't try to hide it. Something has to be done with these characters, who have become an integral part of these movies. Lucy tries to form a maternal relationship with the girls, giving the movie a very light dose of the sentimental, and Agnes goes hunting for a unicorn.

There's little reason to invest in these subplots, and they become too significant a distraction from Gru's reunion with, deception of, and bonding with his brother. That part works in Despicable Me 3—and quite well—especially in how it solidifies Gru as a guy who is neither a villain nor a hero. He could go either way, depending on the circumstances and what's in it for him. It only took three movies, but it's a start.

Copyright © 2017 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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