Despicable Me 3 – Review

Steve Carell as Gru in Despicable Me 3 – Courtesy of Universal Picture.

There are two types of people who go to these kinds of films, those who are dragged and those that come with a smile on their face. Depending on which group you identify as will depend on whether this film does anything for you.

Despicable Me 3 continues the story of Gru, his daughters, and his Minions – as he discovers he has a twin brother that is a lot like him.

Illumination Studios third installment of Despicable Me has arrived, the franchise that started it all, and it has finally begun to show signs of aging. However, there are a handful of qualities in this franchise that are unmistakably well executed, such as the voice acting roles of Steve Carell, Kristen Wigg, and many other voice actors performances. Carell plays both Gru and his twin brother Dru – Carell is successful in establishing the differences between these twins voices. Carell’s comical voice has become memorable and distinct over the years in this franchise. Many of the characters in this film are the same as the second installment, as you only get the introduction of one larger voice actor in the film. South Park creator Trey Parker plays the villain in this larger role, he added some needed comedy and style that the film used effectively, playing the role of a washed up child actor turned real life villain. The performances were more or less the same as the previous film’s, leaving much to be desired when it comes to fresh material.

The film’s signature characteristic has always been that of a playful comedy with moments of emotion; Despicable Me 3 did have these moments, but they suffered from a distinct lack of impact. Many of the moments have been done multiple times, leaving the franchise over-saturated in “cute” and “wholesome” emotional scenes that are played out too often. Illumination Studios needs to begin getting creative with their stories instead of living off the legacy of the first film. There’s no sign of emotional turmoil in Gru, or any of the lead characters. The motivations for Gru’s actions are based on him getting his job back, that’s it. Frankly, there’s only a couple of lessons that this film offers, and they’re all pretty vague; yes, this isn’t Pixar, but it could try to offer something a little deeper.

It’s clear Illumination Studios aren’t strapped for cash, Minions exceeded $1.1b at the box office; having a $70 million budget for a film which will earn 10x that shows nothing revolutionary in its visuals; they do the job and not much else. It’s overall design and art style offered some interesting styles from retro, technological, to luxurious – and the soundtrack for the film was one of its greater strengths.

Looking at the film overall, yes it’s probably going to satisfy most audiences who adore the franchise – but it feels like a follow-up episode in a TV series, not its own film. I recognize why this film will earn buckets of cash at the box office, and that’s fine, if you love the series, you’ll probably love this movie. However, a story without real emotional impact is a story without intrigue in my view. While it will certainly entertain kids and all those obsessed with the Minions franchise – Despicable Me 3 doesn’t offer anything re-inventive in terms of storytelling, and will likely leave most adults forgetting about it the moment they leave the cinema.

4.5/10

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