Despicable Me is a franchise that began with a fun idea — a super villain that has his evil world turned upside down and learns to love thanks to his three adopted daughters — and quickly found itself churning out a much more by-the-numbers sequel that, while still entertaining and more successful overall, didn’t have the same heart behind it. There were still laughs, but most came thanks to the scenes involving the minions, with the main story about Gru finding a significant other never becoming as engaging or heartfelt as it could have been. Unfortunately, Despicable Me 3 takes another step in that same direction, and while it’s entertaining enough to find some laughs, it’s quite clear that the Despicable Me series isn’t worried about attempting to deliver a memorable, or meaningful story anymore, instead choosing to focus on slapstick gags with the thinnest of plots.
The film begins with Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) and his wife Lucy (voiced by Kristen Wiig) on a mission by the Anti-Villain League to stop washed-up ’80s child star Balthazar Bratt (voiced by Trey Parker.) While they’re able to stop Bratt from stealing the world’s largest diamond, they aren’t able to capture him, and his escape leads to both Gru and Lucy being fired from the AVL by the new director Valerie Da Vinci (Jenny Slate.)
Now, while director Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan) wasn’t a major player in Despicable Me 2, he was still viewed as the guy in charge at the AVL, and he popped up a couple of times to further the story; however, his abrupt departure as a character here is somewhat nonsensical as a character introduction like this usually has bigger ongoing repercussions to the story; however, the character of Valerie seems to have been added here for no other reason but to find an easy way to get Gru and Lucy fired from the AVL right out of the gate. So much so, that she isn’t heard from again throughout the movie. That’s not to say we needed a cliché storyline where Gru and Lucy have to win her trust or anything…but there’s really no reason why Ramsbottom couldn’t have been forced by higher-ups to let Gru and Lucy go due to destruction they caused, or for once again failing to capture Bratt, or the likes.
This is an example using smaller characters, but it reflects on how most aspects of Despicable Me 3 are handled. The introduction of Gru’s brother Dru is the major storyline this time around, yet it also lacks any true heart. Gru and his family arrive at Dru’s mansion, and Gru learns that their father was an infamous super villain. Now, even though Gru’s mother told him that his father died of disappointment on the day he was born, you’d think that being an infamous super villain himself, he would’ve heard of someone that looked just like him that did the same thing, but alas, that’s not the case.
Even though Gru is out of work, and Dru wants to learn from his brother how to become a super villain and keep the family business alive, it feels like there really isn’t anything at stake for anyone in the movie, and the by the numbers way that things play out pretty much confirms that. There’s nothing wrong with simple, but if you’re going to go that route, at least make the simple notes hit the mark. There are so many side stories going on with various characters that none of them get the time needed to flesh themselves out and leave even a small lasting impact on the viewer. Even the minions’ side story seems like a forced way to get them some screen time; though unsurprisingly, they still deliver the film’s funniest moments and when they’re not around, you’ll likely wish they were.
While this is a kid’s movie first and foremost, we’re now at a time when movies like this appeal to older audiences as well, and so putting in that extra effort to appease both young and old helps keep a franchise afloat in the long run. Yet Despicable Me seems content in being beautifully animated, vibrant giggle-fodder for kids with fart jokes and similar gags, and just entertaining enough for adults that you’re likely fine with having spent 90-minutes watching it, but it’s not something you’re likely going to think about again once it’s done.
The movie looks and sounds superb, which is pretty on par for Universal Blu-ray transfers. The animation is smooth, the colours are vibrant, and it all really couldn’t look better as a whole. The sound also comes through nicely, with the soundtrack leading the way, alongside the dialogue and the sound mix, which all blast through the speakers as clear as one could hope for.
Mini-Movie: The Secret Life of Kyle – This short is just over four minutes in length, and focuses on Gru’s pet Kyle attempting to win the heart of the girl he admires.
Deleted Scene with Intro by Dana Gaier – This scene gives Edith a bit more screen time, and is fine to watch if you like. Seems odd to have a single deleted scene, but with how much work goes into animated flicks, it’s not like a whole lot is usually animated and then thrown to the cutting room floor.
Minion Moments – These are just as the title describes, brief moments in Minion life, with two moments, both close to 40-seconds in length giving you some extra minion laughs, which somehow never get tiresome.
Character Profiles – This is a roughly 10-minute feature that focuses on the various characters in the film, as shared by those who voice them. This is a fun watch for fans of the series.
The Making of Despicable Me 3 – This feature runs at almost seven-minutes, and focuses on the story development, the directors, creating the characters, and voice work, etc…
Developing Dru – This is a four-minute look at how the franchise’s newest major character, Dru, came to be.
The AVL Files – There are six characters that viewers can learn more about through their files, and they are: Gru, Lucy, Balthazar Bratt, Dru, El Macho and Vector.
Freedonia Visitor’s Guide – This guide allows viewers to interactively learn more about various locations in Freedonia, which were seen in the film.
Despicable Me TV – Various product advertisements made via clips of the movie.
“Doowit” Sing-Along – Here’s a sing-a-long for the kids, with the words appearing on the screen for them to sing along with.
There are also various Minion mug shots, and wanted posters, along with a music video for the song “Yellow Light.”
Universal Pictures Presents Despicable Me 3. Directed by: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin and Eric Guillon. Written by: Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio. Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel. Running time: 90 Minutes. Rating: PG. Released on Blu-ray: Dec. 5, 2017.
Tags: Despicable Me 3, Kristen Wiig, Minions, Steve Carell