Thursday, June 29, 2017

Review: "Despicable Me 3"


It’s still a fun romp for kids, but the “Despicable Me” franchise has run out of steam for me. It’s a formula by now: super-villain-turned-good-guy Gru goes up against a former colleague, with goofy minion twerps interrupting with antics and a nonsensical song or two, plus more bonding with adopted daughters, cool gadgets and convoluted schemes, and so on.

The X factor is supposed to be Dru, Gru’s long-lost twin brother, also voiced by Steve Carell about a half-octave higher. But the sibling turns out to be a needy drip, and we can guess how their relationship is going to shape up a lot earlier than they do.

As the story opens, Gru has married Anti-Villain League agent Lucy (Kristen Wiig), joined her on the job and they’re settling in with kiddoes Margo, Edith and Agnes (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier and Nev Scharrel, respectively). His new nemesis is Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), a 1980s kid TV star who played a pint-sized villain. He still carries a grudge for having the show canceled when he hit puberty, so he’s determined to turn showbiz into reality.

Bratt is really the best thing about the movie, even if it gets a bit repetitive. He wears outlandish ‘80s clothes and haircut, and continually busts dance moves to Michael Jackson and other pop tunes while carrying out his heists. His super-power involves bubble gum that expands upon contact, trapping his victims in a sticky trap. This leads to Gru’s first, and hopefully last, nude scene in the series.

(Was bubblegum an especially big thing in the 1980s, compared to the ‘70s or ‘90s? I don’t remember it so.)

Gru and Lucy are summarily dismissed by the new head of the AVL when they fail to catch Bratt. But then word arrives that Dru and Gu’s father has died, and the agreement their parents had to split the boys and never tell them about each other becomes null and void.

It’s played for laughs, but that’s pretty cruel stuff. Julie Andrews does the voice of their mom.

Dru has been raised in the family’s native Freedonia where, strangely, no one else has their vaguely Slavic accent, having more of a German peasant vibe. It seems the brothers come from a long line of stories super-villains, but Dru isn’t up to snuff and wants his brother to help him work on his scoundrel game.

The running joke is that Gru resents Dru because he has long, flowing blond locks while he’s bald as a barrel – not to mention seeming to be a bit taller and more svelte.

(By the way, did you know Gru is actually their surname, so they’re actually both Gru, and he’s Dru Gru? Our Gru’s first name is Felonious, something I just learned and don’t think I’ve actually heard anyone say in any of the movies.)

There’s one amusing sequence where they don mismatching black and white super-suits to break into Bratt’s hideout, which is an island tower topped with a Rubik’s Cube. It’s like the Avengers meets Keystone Kops.

The minions are largely absent this go-round, all quitting (except for one pair) over Gru’s stubborn abeyance from dastardly deeds, though we all know these little yellow chickens are going to come home to roost. Henchman Dr. Nefario is shunted even further to the side, trapped in carbonite a la Han Solo; I guess Russell Brand just didn’t want to do the voice anymore.

Look, my kids had a blast watching this movie, and yours probably will, too. We like to think of children as being impatient, but the truth is adults grow tired of things faster than they do.




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