Despicable Me 3 is alright, but laughs are rare

(L to R) Dru (STEVE CARELL) and Gru (STEVE CARELL) in "Despicable Me 3." Illumination, who brought moviegoers "Despicable Me" and the biggest animated hits of 2013 and 2015, "Despicable Me 2" and "Minions," continues the story of Gru, Lucy, their adorable daughters—Margo, Edith and Agnes—and the Minions as one former super-villain rediscovers just how good it feels to be bad.

Despicable Me 3 isn’t the best outing for the franchise but if you’re looking for laughs from a studio comedy in 2017, the best offerings this year are from animated films.

Directed by Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda, co-directed by Eric Guillon, and based on a screenplay written by Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio, the animated comedy stars Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel, Steve Coogan, Jenny Slate and Julie Andrews.

Losing their jobs as agents of the Anti-Villain League following the failure to capture villain Balthazar Bratt (Parker), Gru and Lucy, with daughters Margo, Edith and Agnes, decide to travel to Freedonia at the request of Gru’s brother, Dru.  Gru never knew he had a brother so it comes as a surprise to him.

It turns out that Gru and Dru’s father, who recently passed away, was also a villain and Dru wants to enter the family business.  Gru really wants nothing to do with it but upon looking at their dad’s lair, it’s bonding time for the two brothers as Gru secretly plots a way to get the missing diamond back from Bratt and regain his rightful role with the AVL.

Parker’s Bratt makes for an intriguing addition to the franchise.  He’s a former child star who essentially recreated art following the cancellation of his 1980s television series.  My how the mighty have fallen.  As both a character and vilain, Bratt differs from that of Jason Segel’s Vecter and Benjamin Bratt’s Eduardo from the first two movies.  There’s no character growth for Bratt.

There’s a nice reference to last winter’s Sing as the Minions perform Gilbert and Sullivan’s “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General.” Mel leads the Minions in a strike against Gru when he decides to be a good person and not go back to villainy.  Jerry and Dave stay with Gru as they were absent from the strike.  Kevin, Stuart, and Bob, the stars of Minions, are not in this film but will return for the next Minions film.

It’s not an understatement to say that 2017 has been a rough year on comedies, especially those of the R-rated fare.  While The Big Sick is the best indie comedy of the year, the best studio comedies this year are animated films–the other being The Lego Batman Movie.  This isn’t saying much as the laughs were rare while viewing Despicable Me 3 this morning although that could be my depression speaking (viewing this film was the only thing on my agenda on this Independence Day).

Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment opened Despicable Me in theaters on June 30, 2017.


Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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