Despicable Me 3 has just stopped trying

The creators seem as mystified by the franchise’s success as the bored parents in the audience

DESPICABLE ME 3 (Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda, Eric Guillon). 90 minutes. Opens Friday (June 30). See listing. Rating: NN

My son walked out of Despicable Me 3 declaring that he just had “the best day ever.”

That doesn’t speak to quality but instead to how appealing the movie’s elements are for audiences under the age of 10: Steve Carell’s villain-turned-spy Gru being a cuddly kind of despicable children who say adorable things (or is it that anything they say is adorable?) and, of course, the Minions, whose gibberish has a sophistication that kids can only aspire to.

These things make the franchise so lucrative that it doesn’t even have to try anymore. Despicable Me 3 is slick and moves along like the expensive machine that it is, but it’s also stretched well past the point of Gru and his Minions having a worthwhile story or fresh gags to deliver.

The filmmaking team (which consists of three directors and two writers) seem to be throwing whatever pops into their heads at the screen.

In a plot that seems to be nodding at the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Danny DeVito comedy, Twins, Gru discovers that he has a twin brother named Dru (also Carell). Maybe the Twins nod is intentional the 80s is the film’s only coherent theme.

There’s a new villain in Trey Parker’s Balthazar Bratt, an 80s child star who has a mullet, moonwalks through a heist and has a thing for dance-offs. Once adored for being bad on TV, and selling millions of toys, Bratt has since vowed revenge on Hollywood for cancelling his run. As Bratt exhibits everything that we mock about the 80s, I can’t help but wonder if the film’s writers are thinking about how our obsession with Minions will look 30 years from now.

There are plenty of self-deprecating winks, suggesting that the creative team are as mystified by Despicable Me’s appeal as the parents are.

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