'Despicable Me 3'
The relatively young Universal-backed animation studio Illumination created a golden goose in 2010 with its first movie, ‘Despicable Me’, and has been on a successful roll ever since. Unfortunately, just as happened to DreamWorks Animation and Pixar, Illumination is now caught in a deadly cycle. Its release calendar only lists sequels, spinoffs and remakes, and the overall quality is dipping. Poorly animated, loosely slung together and lacking the heart-tugging that accompanied the first two movies, ‘Despicable Me 3’ is more like ‘Minions’ than its predecessors.
‘Despicable Me 3’ feels like a slapdash effort. It’s as if the studio took potential story ideas for ‘Despicable’ mini-movies that could have accompanied a Blu-ray release or played before theatrical showings of Universal’s latest family film, tossed them together in a rocky episodic screenplay, hired the cheapest animators who could crank out the visuals the fastest, and quickly placed the unworthy product in theaters.
If you’ll recall, ‘Despicable Me 2‘ took Gru (Steve Carell), the reformed and fatherly villain with a heart of gold, and turned him into a special agent for a secret organization tasked with taking down villains. Fight villains with villains, in other words. In the process, his heart was softened even more when he met and fell for fellow agent Lucy (Kristin Wiig). In Part 3, another new relationship will soften the mildly evil teddy bear once again.
Shortly after the movie’s so-so opening, Gru and family are invited to an all-expenses paid trip to visit a twin brother that Gru had no idea existed. Dru (also voiced by Carell) is similar to Gru in many ways, yet entirely opposite in others. Gru is bald, reserved, grumpy, emotionally distant, abrasive and surprisingly good at villainy (although he was the laughingstock of the villainous community in the first movie). Dru has a head of golden flowing hair, he’s a hugger who wants nothing more than to have a relationship with his newly-found relatives, and he’d make for a horrible villain.
The main story of ‘Despicable Me 3’ follows Gru and Dru on an adventure of their own. The movie’s antagonist, ’80s child actor turned super villain Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), stays mostly on the backburner. Meanwhile, Gru’s youngest two girls attempt to find a real-life unicorn, and his new wife tries to learn and earn the title of “mom” with the oldest of the three children.
Gru and Dru come first, which is sad because Bratt alone could have brought some redemption for the lousy ‘Minions‘ movie. Stuck in the 1980s, Bratt breathes humor and life into every on-screen moment. For those who know ’80s pop culture, he’s constantly reciting gems from the neon- and synthesized era. Trey Parker not only voices the character with perfection, but it’s quite entertaining to hear a ‘South Park’ voice in a mainstream kids’ movie.
Unless I’m blinded by nostalgia (which very well could be the case), it seems like back when only a handful of kids’ movies were released each year, they came with higher quality. Now, we rarely get the type of original animated gems we used to. Studios only invest in sure things. They either sequelize, spin off or remake proven hits. While some of those may be worthwhile, ‘Despicable Me 3′ is one of the laziest. It has some strong elements, but the film’s overall focus is placed in the wrong areas. Just as mine did, your kids will probably laugh and enjoy it, but a truly great kids’ movie should be able to get the same response out of the parents too.