The Despicable Me films have a well-established formula and this new movie gives audiences exactly what they would expect. Pixar added depth, metaphor and poignancy to their flagship series with Toy Story 3 but Illumination Studios have decided to stick with the big noses, slapstick and fart jokes which is great because that is exactly what children love. The movie is not as good as the first Despicable Me film but by having its heroes engage in the usual mix of high speed chases and low level parenting it entertains as it should.
This time round Gru, the supervillain reformed by the love of his three adopted daughters, is fired from his spy job and goes on a new mission to save his pride. He isn’t despicable anymore which does rather rob the series of its central idea but thisproblem is solved by giving him a previously unknown twin brother. They have literally just duplicated the character but with none of the narrative baggage and it works. Steve Carrel is brilliant in both voice over parts and together the two are called to fight 80s obsessed bad guy Balthazar Bratt. This new player, voiced by Trey Parker, refuses to leave the decade of his childhood behind him which adds some nostalgic treats for mum and dad, especially in terms of the soundtrack, and while this may go a little over the heads of most under tens for who he might as well be Victorian they will love the disco balls and the dancing.
Gru’s relationship with the girls, Margot, Edith and Agnes, does not get the screen time it has been given previously, which is a shame, and while new wife and stepmother Lucy, voice over by Kristen Wiig, gets some nice scenes with the children everything in the film takes second place to the comedy action sequences.Also vying for attention are the Minions who continue to charm despite their involvement being a little truncated this time round.
If you are hoping for sophisticated storytelling then Despicable Me 3 is not the place to look and there are those who might get upset at how successful these movies arewhen original children’s films like Kubo and the Two Strings struggle to find an audience. In the end though this is missing the point; Despicable Me 3 knows what makes a preteen audience laugh this is just it delivers.
By Mark Waters