Despicable Me 3
Jack Bottomley, Media Correspondent
Sequels are a hard trick to master, the cinematic spectrum is filled with sequels that fail to excite, enthral and grip like the successful first film. However, things get even more dicey once a series expands further into franchise territory with a third movie.
Sometimes, you get a third film that hits every note and remains a perfect or incredibly ambitious cap to the ongoing story, see The Dark Knight Rises and Toy Story 3 as recent examples.
Other times you get a flat on its backside disappointment that brings down the momentum of a beloved narrative, see Shrek The Third and Hangover Part III.
And other times you get real polarisers that endure a legacy forevermore as marmite instalments (Spider-Man 3, Iron Man 3, Back To The Future Part III).
So, after two films and a spin-off for the series' now culturally iconic Minions, we have Illumination Entertainment's foundation franchise returning, as Despicable Me 3 hits cinemas.
So, is it cooler than a freeze ray, or a bigger stinker than the fart gun?
Gru (Steve Carell) and Lucy (Kristen Wiig), now agents for the AVL (Anti-Villain League), lose their jobs after being foiled by '80s child star turned dastardly retro baddie Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker).
Down on their luck, Gru, Lucy and their three girls get some unexpected news when Gru hears he has a long lost twin brother Dru (Carell also), who lives a very high life as a pig farming magnate but has secret aspirations of his own that may take Gru back to his former despicable ways.
First things first, this third film is undoubtedly affected by many recurring issues of sequel syndrome (i.e. potentially waining interest in certain recurrent gags), none more so than a plot that feels unshakeably familiar.
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True it may not be wholly original but the film has lots going on for its plethora of characters and is a fun and most welcome adventure for the entire family.
The secretive sibling story is given spark thanks to the duel voice work of Steve Carell, who excels as both siblings and stops the overly excitable Dru from being annoying by allowing Gru to be his more moody counter-balance and Carell is clearly in his element.
Meanwhile Lucy gets her own arc as a mother trying to connect with the girls and it feels refreshing to see maternal worries brought into focus in a mainstream crowd overly populated by daddy issue narratives.
However the film flies thanks to some brilliant slapstick from the ever mischievous Minions (a mid-film cover of Gilbert & Sullivan's "Modern Major General" is worth the ticket price alone!) and in the brilliant villainous creation of Balthazar Bratt.
Voiced by South Park's Trey Parker, Bratt is the film's scene stealer, a fallen kids star turned '80s mad megalomaniacal moustachoid master super villain, Bratt recalls the Babydoll character from the episode "Baby-Doll" from Batman: The Animated Series (with less 'punch to the gut' shattering poignancy mind) and is a more developed, exciting, madcap bad guy than many in many major superhero films.
Parker nails the vocal duties and Bratt's insanely cool throwback weapons and gadgets are as fun as his scenes of flamboyant scheming.
Despicable Me 3 may lack emotional complexity, sophistication and bear similar mechanics to other animated sequels but it shows that a familiar set up can still excite if the script never loses its grip of giddy goodness...oh, and having Minion musical numbers and a shoulder pad wearing embittered adult prima donna villain helps no end too!
Director: Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda
Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Pierre Coffin, Steve Coogan, Julie Andrews
Release Date: Out Now
Despicable Me 3, 11th July 2017, 21:46 PM