Despicable Me 3

by Michael Cox

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday June 30, 2017

'Despicable Me 3'
'Despicable Me 3'  

The reformed super villain Felonious Gru (Steve Carell) in "Despicable Me 3," the third installment in the 3D computer animated film series, has lost his internal conflict - and so, the franchise has lost its soul.

At one point, Gru struggled with the desire to be the world's greatest villain and the world's greatest dad to three adorable adoptive girls Margo, Edith, and Agnes (Miranda Cosgrove Dana Gaier and Nev Scharrel). He even settled down with an "Anti-Villain agent," Lucy (Kristen Wiig), to help him raise his family.

Now that conflict is gone, the only thing left is a frenetically plotted, overly referential sequel with unsurprising humor that revels in its own, unsuccessful, attempt to be funny. In other words, a flat franchise.

Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, and co-directed by Eric Guillon, with a script by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, this latest installment premiered at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and features the voice talent of Trey Parker as a new super villain. But even the "South Park" writer and creator, and the voice of its iconic character Eric Cartman, is not enough to save this movie.

Being a villain comes with an upside - power, ill-gotten gains, a maniacal laugh - but now that has Gru has abandoned villainy and become part of the Anti-Villain League (AVL) he's lost a lot more than his menace.

What plot device could pick up a character who has lost all his oompf? Set him up against a long lost twin brother who is his complete opposite, Dru (also Carell). If Gru wears black, Dru wears white; if Gru is poor and disgruntled, Dru is rich and charming; and most of all, since Gru is bald, Dru has a thick head of luxurious hair.

Even though Gru successfully foils a plan to steal the world's largest diamond, he gets fired from the AVL for not taking down the retro villain who executed the plan.

Balthazar Bratt (Parker) is a former child star who played a super villain on TV, and the experience went to his head. When the show was canceled as result of his puberty, and his career crumbled, he lost touch with reality. So he chose to live his life as the only-slightly-adult-version of the character that brought him his glory. Now he has a diabolical plan to destroy Hollywood with a giant robot-effigy of himself as revenge for canceling his show.

This seems like a funny concept, but it turns out to be a handful of tired clichťs, accented with some catchy '80s pop music. And all of Kristen Wiig's charm and comic masterwork are lost on her dull character.

The girls are still adorable and the series still features the mass of yellow, pill-shaped creatures know as the Minions. They are always good for a few laughs because they thrive on conformity without inhibition. The sheer madness of disjointed plotlines and hyper-kinetic images may please small children, but the overall film will disappoint everyone else.