“Take me, far away, anywhere/
As long as it’s fun, fun, fun … ”
Those lyrics aptly describe how I expected to enjoy Despicable Me 3, a film that’s the third in an enjoyable series. With Gru, Lucy and the girls returning after a four-year break, they never seemed to take time off and returned with charm, charisma and enough enjoyment to be taken far away for an hour and 30 minutes.
Gru (Steve Carrell) and Lucy (Kristen Wiig) are back to their anti-villain ways, looking to take down our newest antagonist, Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker). Bratt actually opens the film with his rise and fall from kid TV star to failed teen/adult actor. What does Bratt resort to after his failure? Well, being the Anti-Villain League’s most wanted bad guy (it’s quite the jump).
Bratt’s quest to steal the world’s biggest diamond to destroy Hollywood is in full effect after Gru and Lucy thwart his first attempt at stealing the shiny treasure. This is what surrounds the fun found in the rest of Despicable Me 3.
I admittedly had my reservations of whether this installment could follow the lighthearted fun found in previous films. With Minions becoming very popular, I found their shtick to be annoying when used too often. With directors Eric Guillon and Kyle Balda, both being very familiar with the franchise, I was still wary of the movie’s direction after the rise of the minions.
Luckily, minions didn’t take over this film, and Gru’s relationship with his brother, Dru (surprise!) brought the real emotion to Despicable Me 3. The minions were tolerable, even if a couple of sequences felt shoehorned and catered simply for children.
The film’s carefree mentality was felt right away. Bratt is trapped in the 80’s, toting a keyboard and cassette player with “Heist Music” and challenges his opponents to dance-offs. Gru and his family is still zany with a side of wit and, yes, Agnes (Nev Scharrel) is still adorable as ever.
The first two acts click and provide most of the laughs. However, the laughs didn’t make me hold my gut in laughter. Many kids won’t mind, but as an adult, I realized writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio missed the mark for laugh out loud moments, like those found in Despicable Me. I will give credit, though, to this film in appealing enough outside its target audience. I never caught myself in a moment where I felt the film was catering only to kids, unlike this summer’s Cars 3.
This is one of the film’s strongest pros: An adult can find enjoyment along this animated ride. There are jokes that only those outside of their childhood would understand and even a short sequence where Migos’ “Fight Night” was used. Animation films that can succeed in breaking through to adults is always a huge plus, and its a rarity in today’s age.
I’m a big fan of Pharrell Williams — yes, the artist who’s featured on and produced “Happy” — and his score throughout Despicable Me 3 fit well in almost every scene. Those with an ear for music can recognize a Pharrell composition from a mile away, but the score did well by not overwhelming scenes. There’s a charm in the subtleties of each drum, string and vocal used in happy, sad and action-oriented sequences. You’ll be singing “Fun, Fun, Fun” long after the film.
In light of its positives, there isn’t anything phenomenal when watching Despicable Me 3. Nothing is breathtaking and most of the content is “safe.” I couldn’t find the third act as enjoyable as the first two, where jokes were lacking in quality and the action was, well, very childish for the most part. I didn’t find anything I hated about Despicable Me 3, but this isn’t the type of film that will leave a lasting impression on its viewers a year down the road.
If you’ve seen the first two entries in this trilogy, you can come to expect more of the same, which is, for the most part, a fun escape that never drags its feet through the mud.
I viewed an early screening for purposes of this review, thanks to Universal Pictures and Sly Fox. ❤
‘Despicable Me 3’ is rated PG, runs for 1 hour and 30 minutes and releases in North America on June 30, 2017.