There’s no way around it — the Despicable Me movies are rather fun, and no matter what reservations you have on the overload of Minions in pop culture, they’re hard to dislike as well. The third installment, Despicable Me 3 is precisely as fast paced, zany, ridiculous and often hilarious as the first two movies, if you’re in the mood for harmless entertainment you can’t go wrong with this one.
Now that Gru (Steve Carell) has been established in two movies, the makers of Despicable Me 3 don’t really try very hard to give him another big existential crisis. This time Gru is happily married to Lucy (Kristen Wiig) who has turned his life around and made him relinquish his villainous lifestyle. Things take a turn when Gru discovers that he has an estranged twin brother named Dru (also voiced by Carrell), who is even more successful as a villain and far more flamboyant as a person. Gru doesn’t much take a liking to Dru, until the latter proposes an idea to him — going on one last big heist.
If you’re looking for something ‘new’ in the franchise you’ll be disappointed because it’s more of the same. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing because the Despicable Me movies don’t need to reinvent the wheel — the story concept itself is fun enough to alter just a few elements each time and still deliver disposable entertainment. You get Gru in his weird accent doing stupid things, while the Minions are in a mini movie of their own — getting themselves into increasingly silly scenarios. The sibling rivalry between Gru and Dru is funny, as is the cameo by their mother Marlena (voiced by Julie Andrews).
The good thing about these movies is they never stop lobbying grenades of visual flair or fast paced mayhem — there is so much going on in every scene it becomes impossible to stop and complain about anything. Director Pierre Coffin (who also voices the Minions) infuses a ‘so many gags per minute’ approach to keep the kids giggling and the adults chuckling through the short run time. The biggest surprise in the film is the villain Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) who is, in many ways, the funniest addition to the franchise to date. Giving away the details of his character would rob you of the fun — so all you need to know is that he’s a bitter man with a mullet and a canceled sitcom.
Much like the Ice Age movies, the Despicable Me franchise will last a dozen more sequels, but unlike the case in those films there is some real effort being put into making these films entertaining. It’s been eight long years since the first movie, but Gru and his Minions haven’t aged a bit. On the down side the secondary characters, like Gru’s children don’t have a lot to do in the main story and you wish they grew up over the years. The sub plot with Lucy trying to become the kids’ adopted mother may strike a chord with people in a similar situation, but it’s an unwelcome distraction from the relentless fun between Gru and Dru.