Gru Meets His Twin: Despicable Me 3 Review
Despicable Me 3 continues the saga of bad guy turned good guy Gru and his encounter with another nemesis. The movie begins with Gru (Steve Carell) and his wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig) in pursuit of Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), a former TV child star who has continued to live the same bad boy role he played on a show that was canceled three decades earlier. Bratt makes a daring heist of a huge diamond, but Gru retrieves the stone from him. Bratt, though, makes his getaway. That does not sit well with the new head of the Anti-Villain League, Valerie Da Vinci (Jenny Slate), who has replaced the retired Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan). Da Vinci fires Gru for failing to apprehend Bratt. Lucy gets fired as well for defending her husband. When the minions hear the news, they think Gru will return to his old ways. When Gru doesn't, most of them quit.
As they leave, they give a butler named Fritz (also Coogan) a hard time. Fritz has come to see Gru on a personal matter. He invites Gru and his family to visit with Gru's twin brother, Dru (Carell), who lives in the country of Freedonia. Part of Dru's wealth comes from a successful pig farm. Gru confronts his mother (Julie Andrews) about this, and she tells Gru that she and her recently deceased ex-husband agreed to raise one child apiece, and keep the knowledge of each twin from the other. While Gru gets acquainted with Dru, Lucy tries to form a closer bond with stepdaughters Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Nev Scharrel). Gru learns that Dru wants to be a bad guy, just as his late father and Gru once were. Gru plays along when he learns that Bratt has succeeded in stealing the diamond again. He tries to show the inept Dru how to succeed at theft as Bratt prepares to use the gem as a part of his ultimate revenge on Hollywood.
Despicable Me 3 is a sequel that loses its way early. It loses credibility early when Da Vinci fires Gru for no legitimate reason. The movie's credibility becomes further eroded with the revelation of Bratt's back story. I don't buy that most kids would like like a child character who'd make Dennis the Menace look like a candidate for sainthood, nor do I believe any network would get away with making such a show. Writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio have sone clever ideas, such as using bubble gum and a keytar as weapons for Bratt, but the movie offers little else but Bratt, Gru, and Dru. Pierre Coffin returns to co-direct and provide minion voices, but Minions co-director Kyle Balda joins Coffin in assembling this underdeveloped, uninspired, and unbelievable mess of a third installment. As someone old and decrepit enough to have seen and loved Duck Soup, I really didn't care for the use of the name Freedonia. The animated Freedonia could have used some comic inspiration from the land run on the every outrageous whim of Rufus T. Firefly.
Carell and Parker do their part in bringing any interest to Despicable Me 3. Gru knows what makes Bratt tick, and generally manages to avoid any type of sticky situation. He uses his down time to not only get to know Gru, but to enjoy the generosity of his twin while pondering his own future. Dru, meanwhile, manages to get by on his inheritance and the good looks than never touched Gru. Parker has fun as Bratt, who has somehow managed to parlay one brief role into a career. In addition to his gum and his music, he has dance moves that he loves. His only company is a robot named Clive (Andy Nyman) - and he's only there because he's been programmed that way. Given all this, Bratt has a grudge with the world he thinks he can settle with his assets. The other returning actors and Slate have little to do other than to have a moment to be a part of this screenplay.
Despicable Me 3 shows that expanding a successful franchise to a trilogy is not always a good idea. This movie lacks the humor and the energy of its two predecessors. The movie, sadly, ends with hints of a Despicable Me 4. At this stage of the series, I hold out little hope that such a sequel would provide any sort of a rebound. Should a fourth film live down to the third film, that would truly be despicable.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Despicable Me 3 two stars. A most unwanted sequel.