Animated Movies, Reviews

[REVIEW] ‘Despicable Me 3’ – Gru’s Double is Trouble

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Gru, Lucy, and the girls are back again in Despicable Me 3 for another installment of the Despicable Me franchise. But does this new film bring anything new and fresh to the table? Or does it feel worn out like a 1980s child star?

Gru (Steve Carell) and Lucy (Kristen Wiig) are enjoying married life as top agents at the Anti-Villain League. But after an attempt to capture a notorious baddie and former ’80s child star, Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), goes awry, they find themselves jobless after the new head honcho kicks them out. Things further fall apart when the Minions, wanting to go back to being bad, quit and walk out on Gru. However, Gru isn’t left with idle hands for long as his long-lost twin brother Dru (Steve Carell) reconnects with him, inviting Gru and his family to visit him at his mansion in Freedonia. However, Gru quickly discovers that his brother has other plans for him, pushing him to keep up their recently deceased father’s legacy of villainy. Not wanting to backslide and revert back to his old ways, but desiring to reconnect with his brother, Gru finds himself in a pickle, which might force him to pick one over the other.

With Despicable Me 3 being the fourth film in the wildly popular and successful franchise, it has big shoes to fill. The filmmakers do a good job putting Gru and the gang in new territory, taking a short break from crime fighting. While Gru losing his job comes almost too easily, the plot of Gru connecting with his twin is a nice change of pace. That being said, there are too many subplots and characters fighting for screen time. For example, we have Margo accidentally getting engaged to a Freedonian boy, Lucy’s attempts to be a mom, Agnes desperately wanting to find a fluffy unicorn, and the Minions ending up in prison. None of these have time to grow and flourish into something we care about, but instead feel a bit tacked on in order to fill time.

despicable-me-3-03

The prospect of meeting Gru’s brother is interesting, until we actually meet the guy. Dru is the polar opposite of Gru, from having luscious blonde locks to looking impeccable in white, but is actually embarrassingly incompetent. Other than his massive fortune, he simply can’t keep up with Gru. This was disappointing because you never grow to care much for Dru and just see him as a nuisance, so the viewer isn’t invested in the outcome of his story. If Dru would have had more positive and aspirational qualities that Gru didn’t, it would have made the two more balanced and allowed the estranged brotherly relationship to have more weight.

At first take, Balthazar seemed like a fun unique villain, but he’s actually just an attempt to capitalize on the ’80s nostalgia of the parents in the audience. The mullet, Rubik’s Cube, and pump-up sneakers are funny at first, but – like most things from the ’80s – they get old real fast. Balthazar is constantly obsessing and dwelling on the fact that his child star career got cut short due to puberty, causing Hollywood to turn their back to him. It’s an interesting backstory, but every scene with him recounts it, causing the audience to repeatedly hear that one sour note over and over and over again.

One thing that Despicable Me has always done well is a great soundtrack and these new tracks do not disappoint. They are catchy, upbeat and very much on brand for the franchise, especially since Pharrell Williams is at the helm yet again. While there isn’t a runaway hit like “Happy” from the second film, the songs that are in the movie play well in the moment.

The 96-minute runtime feels short, despite everything that’s packed into it and the slow third act. But overall, Despicable Me 3 is a decent film. It’s unlikely to do over $1 billion like its predecessor Minions, but fans of the other films will most likely come back for another fun time with everyone’s favorite reformed bad guy, Gru.

★★★

For our podcast review of Despicable Me 3, click here.

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

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About Morgan Stradling

Morgan is a native of Arizona and desert rat who loves the heat--she doesn’t even turn on the AC in her car in the middle of the summer! She loves big eyeliner, SURVIVOR, Lady Gaga, and, of course, animated films. She just graduated with her MBA in Marketing from ASU and now works as a Project Manager for a tech company. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
  • <[| MG |]>

    8>(Looks druesomely funny)>

    9>(good luck Cars(s))>

    7>(thursday Night Preview – $4.1M)>

    10 >(the Pixar/Illumination BOX OFFICE race has been entertaining me for years.( Somehow,even more than the…um…Pixar’s doing fine,yeah,but…nevermind…)>

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/13c416820621c01ade211c7678c5340a050d31d40b447872e935ff53fda7606f.gif

    vRuumm,rumrumROOMrooommmm… <
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/655f6295eba741cb18d7c9c82890bb842ed3aedd0bc4603dc3ad44117e5d71d8.jpg

    • Manuel Orozco

      Despicable Me 3 was entertaining but nothing in terms of a threequel compared to Cars 3.

      • <[| MG |]>

        – Les Impressions –

        Saw Cars 3 today,with two young pals and was beyond the moon that they enjoyed it more than I.They loved it actually.Personally,I prefer the first two films,with their sheer visual brilliance and overally in techical aspects,somehow I expected more from this one(for example – Monsters,Inc. & MU – I mean,that’s the difference and freshness I’m talking about).For some(quite reasonable,me thinks)reason,I didn’t look up for the director before watching it,and thoughout the film,I got a feeling that either John Lasseter had had lost his way,or…well,I was SOO sure that the long-time passion,which drove this franchise was present in its creative process,that I excluded any other possibility.I literally was left open-mouthed when the credits came up.NO Lasseter.That being said,I think that the director deserves some praise – definitely not easy to make a movie that could be embraced by more than one kind of an audience,even though Pixar is known of such films,Cars franchise obviously is their least admired,therefore,even more pressure.

        – LeS PensÉes –

        My god,don’t I talk too much.

        Well,you obviously enjoyed it,didn’t you? : ) Then Pixar has pulled it off again.

        I didn’t exactly expect a Chomet or Plympton kind of a film from them(hell,even Captain Underpants),which is absolutely fine.That they manage to do something more than pure entertainment is quite appreciable.

        I found some old small cars in the attic,a couple of days ago.Goodness gracious,the moment I moved one of them( RED ! ),slowly, for a mile or so,I felt such energy that I was instantly absorbed by an irresistible desire to direct…as a matter of fact I still want to direct a Cars movie 😀

        Can’t blame Lasseter.His passion is utterly understandable.

      • <[| MG |]>

        – Les Impressions –

        Saw Cars 3 today,with two young pals and was beyond the moon that they enjoyed it more than I.They loved it actually.Personally,I prefer the first two films,with their sheer visual brilliance and overally in techical aspects,somehow I expected more from this one(for example – Monsters,Inc. & MU – I mean,that’s the difference and freshness I’m talking about).For some(quite reasonable,me thinks)reason,I didn’t look up for the director before watching it,and thoughout the film,I got a feeling that either John Lasseter had had lost his way,or…well,I was SOO sure that the long-time passion,which drove this franchise was present in its creative process,that I excluded any other possibility.I literally was left open-mouthed when the credits came up.NO Lasseter.That being said,I think that the director deserves some praise – definitely not easy to make a movie that could be embraced by more than one kind of an audience,even though Pixar is known of such films,Cars franchise obviously is their least admired,therefore,even more pressure.

        – LeS PensÉes –

        My god,don’t I talk too much.

        Well,you obviously enjoyed it,didn’t you? : ) Then Pixar has pulled it off again.

        I didn’t exactly expect a Chomet or Plympton kind of a film from them(hell,even a Captain Underpants kind of a movie),which is absolutely fine.That they manage to do something more than pure entertainment is quite appreciable.

        I found some old small cars in the attic,a couple of days ago.Goodness gracious,the moment I moved one of them( RED ! ),slowly, for a mile or so,I felt such energy that I was instantly absorbed by an irresistible desire to direct…as a matter of fact I still want to direct a Cars movie 😀

        Can’t blame Lasseter.His passion is utterly understandable.

        Note – I’m done with the editing.

        • Manuel Orozco

          I didn’t see Captain Underpants yet so I don’t understand everything you are saying. Secondly, I’m surprised your friends enjoyed Cars 3 more than you did. Third, I didn’t mind Lasseter being involved strictly as executive producer this time. Fourth, I thought #3 was as great as #2 just without the over the top spy violence. What we got story wise was able to make up for the fact that there were no references to the previous movie’s events.

          • <[| MG |]>

            – – –
            Heck,yes,every time I saw Matter,I expected some kind of a reference.In that respect,the movie’s occasionally present nostalgic tone(which,I believe some of the audiences’ members felt and not only noticed,as me)and the narrative which distances completely from the previous installment,makes perfect sense,since it recalls the original’s themes and it kind of got its feel also.Still,yeah,Pixar hasn’t made a movie,similar to any of its own.

            Don’t you think that the spy violence presented in Cars 2,kind of fitted perfectly the overall tone of the movie ?

            I expect someone to say that the Thunder Hollow sequence also felt a bit lenghty,but I usually enjoy Pixar’s action sequences,and was quite entertained by the mentioned one,definitely not tiring.

          • Manuel Orozco

            Tone wise was totally understandable to go back to that old slice of life magic which was pretty refreshing. The spy violence did fit the action packed tone even if it was a little out of hand and the Thunder Hollow sequence wasn’t as frantic as I thought it was going to be which was a good thing. However, I may not be psychic but I knew what followed was going to be the plot’s darkest hour. I was also expecting to hear Brad Paisley sing. I was able to take the minor disappointment very well. But I wanted him to do a ballad like he did with the previous two,

          • <[| MG |]>

            – – –
            I mean it definitely didn’t feel like “oh,let’s ignore the previous installment and act like it never existed”.It didn’t feel that at all.

            Well,you know,I kind of liked how the unstoppable action was justified by the movie’s core itself,I mean,didn’t the whole situation just get out of hand ? And seriously,in a matter of minutes,the whole action changes its course,and again and again,like every second.It think it follows its own rulebook quite well.At least,that’s how I see it.
            No Ratatouille,but an undeniably well-crafted movie which works perfectly well in its own terms.

            Oh,and by the way I just realised what songs you were talking about.
            “Nobody’s Fool ” sort of felt like an “Ode of Matter”,but nevermind.I really enjoyed staying through the closing credits.

          • Manuel Orozco

            Whatever you say. And I love Find Yourself and Behind the Clouds more

          • <[| MG |]>

            – – –
            Either you really don’t like some of the action of it,or there’re(obviously)some flaws,in the mentioned part and I just have to rewatch it.
            Definitely.I’m having a hard time remembering when was the last time I watched either of them.Wanted to watch both the original and the first sequel a few days ago,just before the session,but none of them were/ are on the net.

            As for them,I’ll check both,I clearly haven’t payed enough attention to the soundtrack before,for some reason.

            And honestly,Brad Paisley is really new to me,I’ll have to look at some of his stuff as well.

          • Manuel Orozco

            Brad Paisley was new to me too 11 years ago. I’m only a fan because of the Cars franchise. I only mentioned him because he provides the guitar riffs which were insane in the Thunder Hollow scene. Anyway, if you enjoyed the previous Despicable Me movies, you’ll enjoy this one. My overall opinion is above in the comment section.

          • <[| MG |]>

            – – –
            Yes,they truly were.Actually,I was so caught up in the action that I only realised that after the Thunder Storm sequence was over.I was even craving for more thunderousness and the only thought that was storming my head was -” please don’t pull out from the action,just let it breath,it’s a Thunder Hollow for god’s sake,not a visualised nursery rhyme ! ”

            – – –
            Speaking of nursery rhymes,I’m afraid I won’t be able to resist the heavenly sound of the dawn chorus,which only increases in magnitude and inevitably I’ll end up sleeping on the keyboard,which won’t do any good to anyone,let alone our conversation.

            Therefore,I think I have to bid adieu to you and soon enough,we’ll share our thoughts on the Despicable Me franchise.

            Ta-ta : )

            – – –

          • Manuel Orozco

            Pleasure

          • Manuel Orozco

            Thanks for the upvote

  • Manuel Orozco

    I just got back from watching this morning. That’s three installments of the DM franchise in a row I’ve seen on opening date! (DM2. Minions and DM3) DM 3 is equal with the original movie but not as awesome as the second movie. I do have to disagree about the subplots since Margo’s accidental engagement was unnecessary but the other storylines between Gru and Dru were tolerable. Bratt has to be the franchise’s most over the top antagonist yet with his 80’s pop cultural references and obsession with his former TV alter ego. But who would have wanted an evil kid as a TV show idol back then? This brotherly bond at it’s core leads to a WTF ending that will leave you begging for more adventures with the Gru family. Regardless of flaws, this third entry in the DM is still colorfully animated, genuinely hilarious and madcap action packed. 4/5 stars

  • Frank Coufal

    I was very lucky to see it yesterday. It was enjoyable, but I think it could’ve been done better.

    • Manuel Orozco

      I agree especially with the subplots and I expected a more heartwarming resolution in the tradition of the previous two.

  • Angelo Thomas

    I thought it was fine, but definitely not on par with the first two movies. The story was all over the place, and it felt like there was a lot going on that ultimately didn’t add up to anything. I did like it more than the Minions movie, but I’m disappointed because I enjoyed the other movies so much. It feels like the writers just phoned it in for this one.

  • Not sure I’ll see this one in theatres since I just haven’t been as hyped up for this one (and just got a summer job that’ll take up a lot of free time to see movies…), but just recently saw the 2nd Despicable Me and that kinda held up really well! I’ll certainly watch this but probably not as quickly as seeing the other films
    Really great review though! Glad it’s at least a fun little flick to pass the time! That’s all I ask at this point 😀

  • Rachel Wagner

    I’m surprised you gave it 3 stars given the tone of the review. I agree with everything you said. It had a few laughs which is better than Minions at least

    • Manuel Orozco

      Well at least the Minions prove that Mater is not the only sidekick in today’s animation world that has a tolerable comic mind.

  • Lee DeWald

    I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first film, but I did like it more than the second film. Which, to be honest, isn’t saying much, since I love them all.

    • Manuel Orozco

      Well to each their own because I thought the second one was the best.

  • Thanks for the review. My bother saw this and he said that it was ok, not as
    good at the first two. So if I decide to watch DM3, it’ll probably be on-demand.
    I’m not the biggest DM fan either. I don’t hate, but don’t care for the Minions.

    • Manuel Orozco

      Hey. I’ve been meaning to ask you how Cars 3 turned out for you Rail

      • It was a massive improvement over Cars 2, but not as good as the original.

        • Manuel Orozco

          I actually thought overall was on par with Cars 2. Don’t get me wrong. But to each their own.

  • It wasn’t awful, but I was SO disappointed with this one. I love these characters, and I would’ve liked the subplot of Lucy trying to bond with the girls had it been done right, but it was just too rushed and thrown in with a half dozen other subplots that get too much time devoted to them.

    • Manuel Orozco

      I still liked DM 3 but I agree the mama bear subplot should have been done better even without that accidental engagement shenanigan Margo got herself into. Which was totally unnecessary after last time when she temporarily fell for El Macho’s son.

      • I mean, I liked it okay, I was just bummed that it was so much worse than the other 2. And I was fine with the engagement thing (although it was kinda predictable), I just think a better way to do it would’ve been to maybe stretch out Margo being mad at Lucy for it, then have the other mom come back later and have Lucy defend Margo. It would’ve been a better payoff than just resolving it in the same scene.

        • Manuel Orozco

          whatever you say