Movie Review: Despicable Me 3: Family, Fun, and Hollywood’s Sequel Obsession

The only thing more inevitable in Hollywood than a sequel to a popular franchise is a sequel to a popular children’s franchise. And so we have the fourth movie surrounding supervillain Gru (Steve Carell), his Minions, and his rapidly expanding family. Despicable Me 3 finds Gru fired from his job at the Anti-Villain League for failing in to bring in 80’s obsessed former child star Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), whose schemes involve him acting out the tv show he starred in as a child as. . . a child supervillain.

Down on his luck, he is contacted by a long-long and mega-rich twin brother Dru (also Carell), who wants him to rejoin the family legacy of supervillainy. Meanwhile, his wife Lucy (Kristen Wiigis trying to bond with their adopted daughters and become as much of a super mom as she is a super spy.

Sibling rivalry, daddy issues, mommy issues. . . they’re all in there. Oh, and plenty of the Minions doing their typical schtick for everyone who loves that.

It’s not a perfect film, or anything really groundbreaking, but it’s enjoyable and will make children squeal with laughter while not annoying or boring parents. Indeed, many of the 80’s throwback jokes seem tailor-made for adults, though broad enough that it doesn’t completely go over kids’ heads.

But where these films have always succeeded is in having a great heart. This has always come from the three little girls who stole Gru’s heart in the first film, and they continue to do the same here. A specific highlight comes from Agnes and her search for a supposed real-life unicorn. Even better comes from the emotional payoff of Lucy finally bonding with her adopted girls. If your heart doesn’t cry just a little bit, you may be a supervillain yourself.

The film all ends with a spectacular action sequence of Balthazar Bratt literally attacking Hollywood in a giant robot in a re-enactment of one of his classic tv episodes. You can’t help but feel there is a little bit of commentary here about Hollywood’s lack of creativity and insistence on recycling and rebooting everything coming to destroy the city, a literal robot covering it in literal sticky-sweet bubble gum. Or maybe it’s just a fun action sequence: one which other big budget directors could take some cues from in terms of pacing, excitement, and–most of all–fun.

There’s nothing earth-shattering here, but given your others choices in theaters right now (shudder. . .  Transformers. And the snoozefest cashgrab that is Cars 3) you could do much worse. And if you liked the previous movies, there is a nearly perfect probability you will enjoy this one, too.

3 out of 5 stars