Magazine article Variety

Despicable Me 3

Magazine article Variety

Despicable Me 3

Article excerpt

Despicable Me 3

FILM REVIEW

Directors: Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda

Voices: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker

On the surface, the "Despicable Me" cartoons appear to be send-ups of the James Bond franchise, but beneath that slick, spoofy exterior, they're really marshmallow-centered affirmations of good old-fashioned family values. In the original, reformed supervillain Gru (Steve Carell) agrees to reprioritize his life around his three newly adopted daughters. Then, in the sequel, Gru meets soul mate Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) and gets hitched. Now, in what might have been titled "Predictable Me 3," Gru discovers his long-lost twin brother, Dru, giving the superficially surly character even more reason for group hugs.

The fact that Gru has lost his job with the Anti-Villain League and that Dru desperately wants to get into the villainy racket is mostly just incidental in a series that's starting to feel less like 007 and more like "The Brady Bunch" with every outing. And lest you assume that "Despicable Me 3" somehow marks the poignant finale of a predetermined trilogy (one that has already earned more than $1.5 billion worldwide, not counting merchandising or the additional billion bucks of the "Minions" movie), think again: The movie wraps things up in the most open-ended manner possible, paving the path for a seemingly infinite number of sequels - which could actually be the way in which this series most resembles the Bond movies.

But here are a few words of advice for the talented folks at Illumination that might have come in handy before they undertook this outing: As happened with "Shrek" and other cartoon franchises before it, Gru's ensemble is starting to feel a bit bloated, and before moving «- forward, the studio might want to shed a few characters, starting - blasphemy of blasphemies! - with the Minions, who now officially have nothing to do. (In that vein, whether out of wisdom or contract considerations, Russell Brand's Dr. Nefario spends the movie frozen in carbonite, which is a step in the right direction.)

In theory, the Minions are the reason these movies make millions, and it should tell you something that the little yellow guys succeed in delivering two fart jokes before the Illumination logo has even cleared the screen. They're the irreverent comic relief in a series that's robustly funny in its own right. And yet, like the acorn-obsessed Scrat in the "Ice Age" movies, the Minions' scenes have broken off from the main storyline, their antics now unfolding as added-value vignettes in parallel to the plot at hand.

The central narrative concerns Gru's discovery of Dru (both voiced by Carell, though the latter's accent assumes an even weirder, Tommy Wiseau-like lilt). It should be noted that the surprise-twin thing is the kind of device that surely makes even soap-opera writers blush - but then, that's half the joke in a franchise that's self-aware enough to realize it's taking tired cliches and turning them upside down and inside out. Where the first "Despicable Me" seemed to be winking at the audience in open acknowledgment of what it was stealing from other sources, this third installment is all but rolling its eyes at us (as in a lame bit where Gru and Dru pretend to be one another, a la "Parent Trap," knowing full well that they're the only ones who find it funny). …

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