The movie series that built Illumination into an animated powerhouse is back with the fourth installment of the Despicable Me franchise. Despicable Me 3 follows the first two movies of the same name and the prequel Minions and returns the story to Gru and his growing family.
Despicable Me 3 starts out where Despicable Me 2 finished, as Gru and his wife Lucy are agents working for the Anti-Villain League (AVL) and are on the trail of a master criminal named Balthazar Bratt (South Park’s Trey Parker). Bratt is a former child actor who played a villain on a TV show and decided to become a real villain when he grew up, and Hollywood shunned him.
When Gru fails to capture Balthazar Bratt (although he did save the diamond he was trying to steal), the new head of the AVL fired him and then fired Lucy as well when she stood up for him. This story has little time to grow before Gru learns he has a twin brother he never knew about named Dru.
Unlike the first two Despicable Me movies, which both had solid storylines, this third installment just kind of throws Gru into a situation and has him react to what happens to him instead of leading the way. That makes this movie the lesser of the three, but it still had moments that help it stand above other second tier animated movies.
One of the things that hurt the film the most is taking Gru and separating him from the Minions, as all but two chose to turn on Gru and quit when he refused to return to villainy after the AVL fired him. The Minions remain a part of the movie but just as a side to Gru’s adventure.
There is only one storyline that matters, and everything else remains insignificant. Dru reveals to Gru that their father (who Gru thought died from disappointment when he was born) was a master villain and he always saw Dru as a disappointment. Dru wants Gru to teach him how to be a super villain, but Gru refuses.
However, when Gru learns that Balthazar Bratt ended up with the diamond anyway, he tricks Dru into thinking they are stealing it as villains but has plans to return it to the AVL to get him and Lucy their jobs back.
Lessons are learned from everyone, as expected in a Despicable Me movie. The problem is the movie shortchanged every other character.
Lucy has a side plot of trying to convince the girls that she can be their mom but was just filler. There was another side plot with Margo and a boy from the village where Dru lived that was completely forgettable. The woman who took over the AVL was painted as a terrible person but was never seen again after firing Gru and Lucy.
The Minions were all arrested and imprisoned in the dumbest way possible and played out lame prison jokes to split up Gru and Dru’s story.
Only Agnes’ search for a unicorn possessed the heart that fans of Despicable Me expect.
It seemed like the filmmakers only cared about Gru and Dru and to a lesser extent Balthazar Bratt. The dynamics between Gru and Dru worked well, and the resolution to their problems (and the aftermath) was also excellent. It helped this movie rise above the rest.
As for Balthazar Bratt, Trey Parker portrayed him as a reject from the ’80s. The biggest laughs came from the ’80s references, music, and more. Between Balthazar Bratt and the relationship between Gru and Dru, there is enough here to keep fans of the franchise entertained but Despicable Me 3 lacks the heart of the past installments, and the Minions got the short end of the stick this time around.