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Tuesday, July 4, 2017 11:27 am

“Despicable 3” Surprisingly Lively

By the time a third entry in a franchise rolls around, wear and tear begins to show in what was once considered fresh and inventive. And if the same filmmaker that brought parts one and two to the screen is in charge of ushering in the third go around, the odds of anything fresh being on the screen diminish greatly. Surprisingly, there’s more than enough gas left in the tank to make “Despicable Me 3” one of the more entertaining entries in this inexplicably successful franchise.  That’s not to say that this Illumination Production has the depth or ambition of the films its rival Pixar produces, but it still proves to be serviceable fun.

Gru (Steve Carell) goes toe-to-toe with his nemesis Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) in Despicable Me 3.
Courtesy Universal Pictures

Having let their chief nemesis, former child star, now raving, wannabe world dominator Balthazar Bratt (voice by Trey Parker) slip through their fingers, newlyweds Gru and Lucy (Steve Carell & Kristen Wiig) lose their jobs as spies with the international Anti-Villain League. At loose ends, the couple and three kids head to Freedonia where they discover that Gru has a long lost brother Dru (Carell) who has inexplicably made a fortune in pigs(?!?) However, this is all a ruse as he wants to resurrect the family tradition of villainy and hopes to recruit his sibling in his quest.  Meanwhile, the Minions end up in prison having abandoned their former boss and the youngest of the brood, Agnes (Nev Scharrel) goes on a unicorn hunt that’s surprisingly fruitful.

These movies have morphed into rather effective James Bond parodies with their overwrought action set pieces and outsized gadgets, gags I’m sure its young audience doesn’t understand.  The film’s most effective element will likely fly over their heads as well.  Bratt is a walking parody of the ‘80’s replete with mullet, legwarmers and headband, breakdancing instead of walking, grooving to a seemingly endless supply of Top 40 Hits from the decade. His dated quips and wardrobe provide no end of amusement, though I suspect all of this is pitched towards the parents of the movie’s demographic rather than the kids.

Brothers Gru and Dru (both Steve Carell) hatch a nefarious plan in Despicable Me 3.
Courtesy Universal Pictures

The film’s “more is more” aesthetic proves exhausting after awhile but the majority of the jokes hit rather than run aground and there’s no question that Carell is a very, very funny in the dual role as is Parker, dropping one dated bon mot after another.  While it will never be held up as a model of originality, “Despicable Me 3” is far more effective than it should be, a feat that will be hard to duplicate with the inevitable fourth chapter. 

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