Director: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin
Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel, Steve Coogan
Despicable Me – as a series – is rather daft. A film franchise created around younger understanding, with physical comedy gags often used as a replacement for clever writing, the series struggles to maintain its comedic aspects consistently enough to cater an older demographic of audience. With the entire series of films unwilling to alter its tried and tested formula, Despicable Me instead relies heavily on its usual structure to create working narratives that produce cheap laughs. In this sense, Despicable Me 3 once again suffers from a lack of progression to what has been created before.
Gru (Steve Carell), Lucy (Kristen Wiig) and there three adopted girls return for the third time to the series (after being left out of the spin off cash in, Minions). Foiled by child actor – who after being axed due to a bad case of puberty – turned supervillain Balthazar Bratt (South Parks Trey Parker), Gru and Lucy are fired by the AVL (Anti-Villain League). Desperate to get revenge on the Hollywood reject, and in turn his job back, Gru takes it upon himself to capture the 80’s obsessed supervillain. Teaming up with his long lost – and more successful – twin brother Dru (also Steve Carell), Gru begins to understand what aspects of villainy he misses in becoming a family man.
Like all Despicable Me films, including the prequel, Despicable Me 3 struggles in holding one consistent narrative arc from which the rest of the film can progress. With a seemingly endless range of storylines given to each of the films main characters, Despicable Me 3 becomes overly convoluted in what it attempts to bring to the screen. In truth, the film is a mess of narrative strands, with long-lost brothers, and foiling the chief villain being the only narratives that were needed in making the film workable.
However, the creative team behind this production have opted to dilute these two enjoyable storylines with a mix of unneeded extensions including; child marriage, mummy issues, unicorn hunts, and an extremely overlong strand given to the Illuminations most famous characters. This final extra strand is the most unneeded, with the commercial value of their Minion creations leading to a forced inclusion which adds nothing to the finished product, aside an obvious revenue interest. With each of these additional narrative strands never given a level of quality, Despicable 3 is littered with inconsistencies in a lot of what animators brings through in their flashy animation sequences.
Where Despicable 3 eclipses its predecessors is in the design and development of the films lead antagonist. Bratt holds a massive comedic value through his 80’s inspired aesthetic and over-the-top persona. As such each sequence in which he features is delightful to watch – enhancing the film way beyond everything else that surrounds his inclusion. Silly – but only in a humorous manner – it is in the many moments in which these character features that Despicable Me 3 gets its largest laugh out loud moments. With a past given to his character, from which his onscreen exploits are added a level of depth, Bratt never feels one dimensional in his inclusion to the narrative. It is disappointing to find the other new character, Dru, given little to none of the same scope or development, with the results leading to the character feeling unwarranted and gimmicky.
The best in the series, not that that was difficult to obtain, Despicable Me 3 is a watchable family feature with some well-done animation and fun aspects found within. However, with a tired narrative structure, overly convoluted and unnecessary plot threads, and a need to shoehorn in the minion characters when the narrative does not require their inclusion, Despicable Me 3 never reaches the standard of over large scale animations. This ultimately lowers the quality and appeal of the latest entry to the series, especially for older audience members.