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Directors: Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda
Release date:
June 14, 2017
Rating: ★★★
Review:

The third installment of the Despicable Me franchise (not counting the spin-off ‘Minions‘ from 2015) is also the weakest of the trio. Like the other two the film is a fun ride, full of humor and action, but this time the film makers simply wanted to tell too much in one film. There are no less than six plot lines in this film divided over different main characters.

The first, and most enjoyable one considers Gru and his apparent arch nemesis Evil Bratt, a former child-actor from the 1980s gone bad. Evil Bratt, excellently voiced by Trey Parker of South Park fame, is a delightful villain, and the film makers indulge in 1980s tropes to make this character. For example, Evil Bratt sports a mustache and a mullet, and his weapons are based e.g., on bubblegum, Rubik’s cube, and a keytar. Moreover, whenever he appears, he’s accompanied by a 1980s hit, e.g., ‘Jump’ by Van Halen, ‘Take on Me’ by A-Ha, ‘Into the Groove’ by Madonna, and even ’99 Luftballons’ by German star Nena. The film immediately starts with this character, and it’s thanks to this wonderful villain that ‘Despicable me 3’ keeps on the right side between failure and entertainment, if barely so.

Much less interesting are the other story lines: Gru and Lucy are fired, and Gru desperately tries to get his former job back. In a third and totally unexpected twist Gru suddenly discovers he has a twin brother (also voiced by Steve Carrell, voice of Gru), who wants to be a villain, like Gru used to be, but who clearly lacks the skills. The fourth story line involves the minions, who walk out of Gru, a fifth involves Agnes (the youngest of Gru’s three adopted children) and her wish to see a unicorn. And the sixth is about Lucy, and how she tries to be a substitute mom for the girls, especially to Margo, the eldest of the three.

Now, the first three plot lines, all involving Gru, at least intertwine into one, albeit rather loose narrative, but the other three feel forced and superfluous: they’re only there to give the other characters something to do. And even then, Judith, the middle one, is lost in the plot.

Much of the action takes place in ‘Freedonia’ (a clear nod to the Marx Brothers), while the finale takes place in Hollywood. Freedonia clearly is modelled as some French Mediterranean island, and betrays the Illumination studio’s French origin.

The character animation, like in the other installments, is delightfully cartoony and over the top, and better suited for the broad comedy than for the more subtle moments, and only Margo is animated straight, acting like a normal girl, and not like a cartoon character. By now, the effect animation is so good that one hardly notices. For example, the water and smoke animation is excellent and feels so natural, one easily forgets it’s animated, too. I also liked how the film makers made the 1980s Evil Bratt episodes look like old video recordings. The cinematography, too, is top notch, throughout.

But all the quality cannot rescue an overcrowded film that scores high on action, but very low on originality and heart. There’s even an obligatory breakup scene, which feels extra unnecessary, because it lasts so shortly. ‘Despicable Me 3’ is well made, but also mediocre, and with the exception of Evil Bratt, forgettable.

Watch the trailer for ‘Despicable Me 3’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Despicable Me 3’ is available on Blu-Ray and DVD

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