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Dan's Review: "Despicable Me 3" not up to par

Jul 01, 2017 11:44PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Despicable Me 3 - © 2017 Universal/Illumination.

Despicable Me 3 (Universal/Illumination)

Rated PG for action and rude humor. 

Starring (voices of) Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel, Steve Coogan, Julie Andrews, Jenny Slate, Russell Brand, Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud.

Written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, based on characters by Sergio Pablos.

Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda.



There comes a time when a franchise wears out its welcome. I’m not sure if Illumination’s Despicable Me series is there, but it seems to be getting close. Despicable Me 3 hits theaters this weekend, two years after the successful Minions spinoff and four years removed from Despicable Me 2 (Minions 2 is coming in 2020). I’m fairly certain that oversaturation inevitably leads to audience fatigue, which leads to “shark jumping” stunts to remain relevant. The latest installment in the DM franchise illustrates some of these fears.

Steve Carell is back to voice Gru, the former super-villain-turned-spy, along with his new wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig) who is the adoptive mother of Gru’s adopted daughters Margo, Edith and Agnes (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier and Nev Scharrel). When Former 80s child star-turned-evil mastermind Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) steals a precious diamond to build a super weapon, Gru and Lucy are fired by the new Anti Villain League (AVL) leader Valerie Da Vonci (Jenny Slate) for failure to apprehend him. A short time into his unemployment, Gru learns he has a long, lost twin named Dru (also voiced by Carell). Dru has grown up in privilege due to the exploits of the twins’ father (also a master villain), and contacts Gru in hopes of learning the tricks of the trade. He convinces Gru to team up and try again to capture Bratt, not knowing that his brother intends to use the caper to get back in the AVL. The caper goes pretty much as you’d expect, as the brothers must overcome unfamiliarity and sibling rivalry to gain success.

Despicable Me 3 isn’t quite as good as the first two DM films, but slightly better than the Minions spinoff. The main flaws are the lack of conflict (the great final caper seems to go off without a hitch, controversy, major risk factor or moral dilemma involved) and the movie feels more like a placeholder to keep the franchise going. The sudden revelation of a long, lost twin to the main character is the very essence of a “shark-jumping” gimmick, leaving little room for character development or relevant storytelling.  It seems as though Universal Studios and Illumination Animation are content to the keep the cash cow going rather than trying to create a good story. Even the peripheral characters like Gru’s three daughters appear to be hanging out as part of the scenery rather than having anything relevant to add to the story.

There are a few funny and cute moments, along with plenty of Minion potty humor to keep the preteens giggling, but Despicable Me 3 lacks some of the heart and soul of the first two movies.


Despicable Me 3 Trailer