Much like a team of bumbling minions pulling off a near impossible heist, so too has Despicable Me 3 turned out surprisingly well.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Very few franchises age as well as a good red wine or a vintage cheese; in fact, it’s almost expected that each successive installment in any given series will follow in an ongoing downward spiral, gradually losing appeal and originality. There are, of course, exceptions to this generalisation, and Pierre Coffin‘s Despicable Me series certainly comes close.
Every sequel strives to up the ante on its predecessor when it comes to spectacle, and in this regard, Despicable Me 3 does not disappoint. This time around, reformed super villain Gru (Steve Carell) travels to a fictitious, European-themed village with new wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig) and his three adopted daughters to meet his long lost twin brother Dru (also Steve Carell). From the rolling Tuscan hills, to the deep blue Mediterranean sea, to the quaint, cobbled streets of the village town centre, the set pieces are truly breathtaking, with an exceptionally high attention to detail and an astoundingly life-like visual quality.
But this latest addition isn’t just a brotherly reunion set against scenic vistas; there’s a wide range of subplots here, from the heartfelt to the humorous, and each one competes for the spotlight.
While Lucy copes with her new responsibilities as a mother, Gru grapples with his latest arch nemesis, Balthazar Bratt; a failed child TV star from the 1980s who has never forgiven Hollywood for tossing him aside. Although Bratt begins to grate on the nerves by the latter third of the film, he does allow for the inclusion of an epic 80s soundtrack that features Michael Jackson‘s Bad and A-Ha‘s Take On Me among many other hits. The film also tries to squeeze in plot lines for each of the girls with varying success, while also covering the Anti-Villain League and, of course, the minions.
After the rather anti-climatic Minions movie, these goggle-wearing, yellow critters take a bit of a back seat in Despicable Me 3, and it’s all for the better. Punctuating the story with brief amusing scenes, the minions become an entertaining sideshow as they abandon Gru and go out on their own, but while enjoyable, this is yet another storyline that hampers the already bloated narrative.
Despicable Me 3 definitely offers up the gags and witty lines that we’ve come to expect from the franchise, but the comedic spark of the past films isn’t quite as bright here. Nevertheless, it’s all harmless, easy to consume fun that the whole family can enjoy. It might not be perfect, but it’s a pretty solid effort for a third instalment of an animated series.
Despicable Me 3 is available in Australian cinemas from June 15
Image (c) Universal Pictures 2017