REVIEW – Despicable Me 3 is an improvement over its predecessor

…but it still isn’t as good as the first film.

I remember going to a screening for something last year, and seeing the trailer come up for the latest up-and-coming entry in the Despicable Me franchise. The first film was a wunderkind, the second film was awful, and the Minions film could have been so much more than a shade of a wrong-way Benny Hill sketch. At the time, I was irritated a third film (fourth in the franchise) was being made. After all, the second one was terrible. Could a third really improve on what the second film had turned into a crapfest?

I went to go see Despicable Me 3 with a good friend of mine, and if it weren’t for her, I would have probably missed out on a solid entry by Illumination Entertainment. (Thanks Sabrina!)

Much of the old gang is back in this film: Gru (Steve Carell) continues to try and find his footing in the Anti-Villain League, along with his wife, Lucy (Kristen Wiig). When the pair are fired for what’s seen by the league as a botched mission, Gru’s minions hope this is their foray for re-entry to the dark side. When that doesn’t happen, all but two of the Minions abandon ship, leaving Gru, Lucy and their adopted daughters Margo, Edith and Agnes to find other other options. It’s around this time Gru finds out he has a twin brother, Dru (also voiced by Steve Carell).

We learn Gru has a twin brother, Dru — who is also voiced by Steve Carell. (Illumination)

Dru would like to be a legendary villain like their dearly departed father, and after meeting Gru, he’s counting on him to show him the bad boy ropes. Gru isn’t keen after leaving the despicable life behind, and the question becomes will he or won’t he go back, so he can help Dru out?

To compound the issue, another supervillain is making his mark for all the wrong reasons. Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker of South Park fame) is stuck in the 80’s, hell-bent on destroying Hollywood as revenge for cancelling the television show he starred in as a child.

Trey Parker voices Balthazar Bratt, a former child star who has become a supervillain desperate to get his revenge on Hollywood. (Illumination.)

I was actually pleasantly surprised once I’d walked out of the theatre: I realized it was an improvement over Despicable Me 2, which was too drawn out, too all-over-the-place, and had lost its charm with a stupid plot and rush-job writing. Despicable Me 3 is a solid nod to the 80’s, with Rubik’s Cube weapons, Michael Jackson inspired dance moves and Balthazar’s bad hair (yes, he sported that mullet hybrid the entire movie, and it was awesome) bunked together with the usual problems families face. Not everyone is going to agree with what is happening, and it’s up to Gru, Lucy, Dru and the girls to sort out their problems. A predictable trope, but it makes for a great story.

This film is arguably the one in the franchise that had the least amount of Minion tomfoolery in it. Don’t get me wrong, they were certainly there: but this time there was more of a focus on Gru and his brother than the walking, talking corn pops. Not to say I don’t enjoy a good Minion appearance, but they’ve become so ubiquitous, I prefer small doses.

If you’re looking to see something with the kids, or are a Despicable Me franchise fan, then fear not, this won’t disappoint! It’s the usual cartoon fare, but with more finesse and flare than Despicable Me 2. Both kids and adults will have fun, just don’t go in there with the expectation you’ll have a mind-blowing experience.

Just about four minions out of five. A must-see in theatres as a family film, otherwise wait for a cheapie Tuesday to laugh your head off if this is a date night option, or a film you’re hoping to see with a bunch of older friends.

I shared my thoughts on air during “This is What We’re Into” on CKNW!

Check out the trailer below!

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