An entertaining – if somewhat tired – film, Despicable Me 3 is one where most members of the family will find something to enjoy. Watch out for the mildly crude antics of minions if you bring little ones, but DM3 provides an opportunity for light-hearted family fun together… hopefully for the last time in the mined-out franchise. 3 out of 5.
Gru (Steve Carell) is fired from his job as an agent for the Anti-Villain League after he lets 80s television star-turned-villain Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) get away. His wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig) loses her job alongside him. Not long afterward, he receives an invitation to meet his long-lost twin brother Dru (also Carell), and accepts. The cheery, slightly dim Dru dreams of being a successful villain. He begs his twin to teach him the family business of villainy, and Gru agrees, thinking that if he can defeat Bratt, the AVL will take him back.
Balthazar Bratt is a villain that 80s babies will find hard to resist. His love of the 80s (his television glory days) keeps him wearing shoulder pads, sporting a mullet, and living in a lair the shape of a Rubix cube. Best of all, he is often accompanied by classic 80s hits – everything from a-ha’s “Take on Me” to Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” get a nice cameo. Everyone’s favorite yellow creatures are back and up to their usual mischief; minions go awry in DM3, deciding to leave Gru and cause trouble on their own. Their best moment comes when this pack of rabble-rousers sneak into an animated version of the Universal Studios lot. They make it to the sound stage of a singing competition (ironically called Sing!) and put on a stunning vocal performance. Another great moment comes when adorable Agnes (of “It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die” fame) goes hunting for a unicorn of her very own… and finds one! Well, it’s not so much a unicorn as it is a white goat with one horn, but that doesn’t deter this unicorn lover from loving it like it was really her favorite mythological creature. Finally, it wouldn’t be a Despicable Me movie without laughs, and while the movie elicited several little chuckles from me, the biggest audience laugh comes when our dear friend Gru falls off a ladder from a triple bunk bed. It doesn’t sound that funny, and yet, my theater went wild.
Unfortunately, this franchise may be getting a little tired. Though I’m a lover of animated features and children’s movies, and have been known to laugh much louder than the kids around me, I never had a real laughing-so-hard-I’m-embarrassing-my-husband moment. Also tired is the Gru and Dru twins-separated-at-birth motif. Regular moviegoers will recognize this idea as something seen before, many times over; creativity in the writing department was lacking. On that note, our new acquaintance Dru seems very two-dimensional. He’s happy and he’s a terrible villain and… that’s about it. There isn’t a lot of character development and his story ends where it begins: Dru continues a lifestyle of villainy and doesn’t display any moral growth. Finally, Gru defeats Bratt in the same way that Bratt defeated him in the beginning of the film: his clothes are lasered off. If you look at this critically, it can seem as if DM3 may be teaching kids to face bullies with retaliation.
Christian Worldview Elements / Spiritual Themes
We get a nice look at marriage, parenting, and family. Lucy willingly chooses her husband over a career that she loves. We also see her wrestling with the demands of motherhood and adjusting to her place in a blended family. Agnes sells her precious stuffed unicorn to help out her family in their time of financial need. Successful Dru claims that he “isn’t into things,” and promptly shows off his collection of fancy cars and a helicopter. We don’t hear any mention of giving some of his finances to those in need. The most surprising spiritual moment comes when little Agnes is shown praying before bed. She asks God to find a unicorn on her upcoming hunt so that she would be able to ride it to school.
CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers)
- MPAA Rating: PG for rude humor and mild action
- Language/Profanity: Only minor insults like “loser” and “mullethead”.
- Sexuality/Nudity: Gru’s clothes are lasered off, there is a shot of his backside; later, the same thing happens to Bratt; there are many bikini-clad women on a beach; a coconut bra pops off of a minion; a minion strips down to his underwear, another moons a prison guard; Gru’s elderly mother is shown being very flirtatious with muscular swimsuit-clad men; Gru tells a pig to avoid nudging his “private part”; a minion says that a statue resembles Gru with breasts; a few minions dressed as can-can dancers flash their underwear during a singing performance; Dru and Gru land in a questionable position during a heist.
- Violence/Frightening/Intense: There are several episodes of punching and karate-style kicking; various action sequences with lasers, fiery guns, and explosions – no one appears physically harmed.
The Bottom Line
RECOMMENDED FOR: Lovers of the Despicable Me franchise; fans of minions; people who enjoy all animated features; families with older children who don’t mind some mild crude humor.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Parents wary of guns/violence/explosions in movies; parents looking for a strong model of character; people who find Minionese annoying; those who can’t stand animated films.
Despicable Me 3, directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, opens in theaters June 30, 2017. It runs 96 minutes and stars Steve Carrell, Kristen Wiig, and Trey Parker. Watch the trailer for Despicable Me 3 here.
Carrie Dedrick is the editor for Family content at Crosswalk.com.
Publication date: June 29, 2017
Image courtesy: ©Universal-Illumination