Steve Carell returns as former villain Gru in Despicable Me 3, the third installment in the once enjoyable Despicable Me franchise, but not even the great Michael Scott can make much of an impression on this somewhat forgettable threequel. The original film, Despicable Me, was not a masterpiece by any means, but it still provided audiences with genuine laughs and many surprising moments of sentiment. Despicable Me 3 seems to have these elements also, but in limited supply.
Despicable Me 3 follows Anti-Villain League agents Gru and his wife, Lucy (Kristen Wiig), while on their latest mission to stop former child star, Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), from stealing the world’s largest diamond. After failing to apprehend Bratt, Gru and Lucy are fired, leaving them jobless and Gru without motivation. Soon after, Gru receives a message that his long-lost twin brother, Dru (Steve Carell), wants to meet with him. Gru and his family travel to Dru’s home in Freedonia, where he convinces Gru to return to villainy, while Bratt is secretly plotting to enact revenge on his enemies.
Steve Carell’s performance as Gru is on par with his past performances in the Despicable Me films, providing some moments of laughter and some without. It’s nice to see him provide his voice to two different characters that interact with each other, but that’s nothing that hasn’t been done before. South Park and Team America fans will be pleased to know that Trey Parker as Bratt is a welcomed addition to the franchise, but he is used so sparingly he’s easy to forget. The rest of the cast does an adequate job, but not much more.
The film has funny moments, but there are only a few that are laugh out loud funny. This is unfortunate for a film that is classified as a comedy. It thrives on slapstick and potty-humor, which children will get a kick out of, fortunately. There seems to be a serious lack of whit, and instead the audience is fed loud moments of screaming and glimpses of Gru’s rear. On the plus side, the Minions (Pierre Coffin) don’t steal too much screen time.
Despicable Me 3’s biggest problem is that it fails to latch onto one story and develop it further. Far too often are random sublots introduced which either serve no real purpose to the story or are solved too quickly. Scattered around the main plot there’s a different one about an accidental engagement, or the Minions in prison, or trying to locate a unicorn, just things that don’t really matter overall in the film. These random acts throughout the film just leave it feeling messy and cluttered.
After Minions debuted in 2015, I began to get tired of the Despicable Me franchise, and unfortunately the third film in the main series couldn’t rekindle my desire to see these characters again. Despicable Me 3 is no groundbreaking film by any means, in fact it’s probably the weakest in the franchise, but at the very least, it provides some laughs and a way to distract your children for an hour and a half. Who knows, you may find yourself enjoying it a little too.