Lots of series like to change things up after a while to keep the story feeling fresh. However, too much change can be a curse. In terms of the Despicable Me franchise, it is nice that every film has a different plot and storylines that constantly change. But, Despicable Me 3 makes some changes that keep it from hitting the high marks set by its predecessors. Don’t get me wrong, Despicable Me 3 is an enjoyable, cute film. It’s just not as good as the others.
In this third installment of Illumination Entertainment’s inaugural series, Gru (Steve Carell) and new wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig) are faced with losing their jobs at the Anti-Villain League after Gru lets the latest supervillain, the overly 80’s themed Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), get away after a crime. They then learn that Gru has a long lost twin brother, Dru (also voiced by Carell), who wants Gru to teach him how to be a villain. The plot from there is a bit thin, especially when the real villain is forgotten about for a bit. Enter lots of subplots that become distracting and bring no greater value to the overall story.
The funniest of the subplots involve the criminally underused minions. Despicable Me essentially became an international hit because of the tiny yellow troublemakers. With the minions left out of most of the story, the comedy took a hit. However, moments like Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Nev Scharrel) hunting for a unicorn and Margo (Miranda Cosgrove) having boy trouble are quite hilarious. The film is very jumpy and moves from story to story with weird timing. The story didn’t seem to be as organized as the first two.
On the bright side, the character development in the film was surprising. Gru, Lucy, and the minions all go through well thought out arcs. The character development alone is a huge success and deserves praise. The voice acting and antics on screen were also very enjoyable as always.
One thing you might notice in Despicable Me 3 is the overkill of Illumination Entertainment product placement. At least Pixar is subtle and only throws in Easter eggs that make sense. The Sing, The Secret Life of Pets, and Minions references were a little too in your face for my taste. I also didn’t care for Pharrell Williams’ music in this one.
All in all, Despicable Me 3 is mindlessly entertaining, but it’s better suited for kids rather than adults. While the other films may have had better stories and comedy, the third installment still contains most of the magic the franchise is known for. The film would have been much better if the minions had a bigger role.
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