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Friday, June 30, 2017

Movie Review: #DespicableMe3

The insanity of this universe continues in the messy but enjoyable Despicable Me 3.

Review by Matt Cummings

The Despicable Me franchise might not be the one you rattle off in terms of box office royalty, and yet one can't deny its vivacity, having already made nearly $1b domestically over three films. Some of that has come at a price, as critics seem less and less enamored with its zaniness, adult humor, and those pesky Minions who some claim are merely plot devices. Despicable Me 3 gives us all of that in spades, determined to double down on what's worked in the past but exposing their hand over the franchise's issues. And although its story is a bit of a mess, it features stunning animation and enough humor to hide any potential issues.

Settling down into a life of married spycraft, Gru (Steve Carrell) and Lucy (Kristen Wiig) have been pursuing the former 80's child star-turned villain Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), who is obsessed with stealing a ridiculously-sized diamond. Unfortunately, the spies are never able to close the deal, with Bratt managing one brilliant escape after another. At the same time, leadership changes happening at the Anti-Villain League soon see Lucy and Gru out of work and struggling to find purpose. That moment arrives when Gru learns that he has a gregarious brother Drew (Carrell in a dual role), who's ridiculously rich and sports a huge mop of hair. Drew wants to enter a life of crime and hopes that Gru will show him the ropes, but with three children and a wife, Gru must find a way to keep his long-lost brother in check while pursuing Bratt before he can execute his devilish plan.

Unlike a ton of movies we've reviewed this Summer, there's nothing disastrous about Despicable Me 3, but it does contain some story beats that are wrapped up too quickly and some which aren't allowed to develop at all. There's a too-short side story involving Margo and Lucy, as well as a half-baked plot over Gru and Lucy's dismissal from the AVL. But you don't watch this franchise expecting deep plot developments; you're here to enjoy Minion humor and adult meta. Given those rather wide parameters, I will say that even the humor here pushes the boundaries (including a lot of ass-to-mouth by Gru and Drew during a specific scene). But it's all in good fun, creative team does a lot to keep us focus and laughing along the way.

Carrell shines once again as Gru, but now he adds the gregarious Drew to his repertoire, filling each scene he's in with enough to more than float the script by Writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio. They give the brothers enough moments of seriousness to contemplate their lost history, but also infuse them with a true sense of brotherhood. These two have missed each other in their lives, and their joining is like witnessing the planets align. They will be troublesome throughout DM 3, and we're just fine with that. Directors Eric Guillon and Kyle Balda push the zaniness, the new dynamic between Gru and Drew, and Bratt's revenge storyline. They glob on the 80's with Bratt, and Parker really drives home the cheesiness with dance-offs and parachute pants in tow. And of course, the Minions arrive at the right time to engage us in what are really commercial breaks from the action. They sing, spend time in prison, break out, and end up helping to save the day, all of which sounds like a very full week for a bunch of creatures we can never understand. Unlike their less-effective origin story which arrived in 2015, our creative team understands where the Minions truly belong: not far out of sight, ready to make us laugh, but not the center of the story.

The crazy spy nature of DM 3 reminds me of the (frankly) better Penguins of Madagascar; but considering that we might never get a sequel of it or Mr. Peabody and Sherman, I can take the laugh-out-loud hilarity of Despicable Me 3. It's fun, looks incredible, and further expands on a universe that doesn't appear to be losing much steam. Considering the crap that's been Summer 2017, this one encourages you to grab the popcorn and turn off your brain for a wild Summer adventure. Given those simple requests, you can't help but come along for the ride.

Despicable Me 3 is rated PG for action and rude humor and has a runtime of 90 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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