Review: 'Despicable Me 3' — What parents should know
This highly anticipated sequel "Despicable Me 3" continues the story of Gru, his wife Lucy, their adorable daughters—Margo, Edith and Agnes—plus the Minions.
As a quick recap, the first movie was about Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) turning away from his life as a villain in order to adopt three orphan girls: Margo, Edith and Agnes (voiced by Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier and Nev Scharrel.) Gru turns from super bad to super dad. In "Despicable Me 2," Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to use his skills as a former villain to bring evil doers to justice. He is highly successful, but lonely, and winds up falling in love and getting married to his super-spy partner, Lucy (voiced by Kristen Wiig.) The story continues in "Despicable Me 3," with Gru meeting a brother he never knew (also voiced by Carell) and teaming up to pursue the latest bad guy, Balthazar Bratt (voiced by Trey Parker.)
Bratt (aptly named), who is a 1980s fixated former child TV star unjustly fired when he outgrew his role, is now obsessed with revenge on Hollywood. He reinvents himself as a flashy hipster with an '80s-style flat-top mullet (which doesn’t cover up his bald spot), a gold dangling earring, and a purple jumpsuit with shoulder pads and matching high-top sneakers. Bratt is so desperate to get attention that he steals the world’s biggest diamond, which looks like a gigantic pink gemstone.
As a result of failing to capture Bratt, there’s trouble back at the Anti-Villain League. Gru and his wife Lucy are fired and lose their jobs. At home, Gru and Lucy reluctantly tell their children they will no longer be anti-villain agents. When the minions find out what happened, they demand that Gru return to being a villain. However, Gru refuses, insisting he cannot be bad now that he’s a dad, and a husband to boot. In revolt, most of the minions leave home, insisting that they will find a new way to support themselves.
The next morning, Gru is approached by a man who tells him that has a long-lost twin brother who wants to meet him. Thinking this can’t possibly be true, Gru confronts his mother (voiced by Julie Andrews.) She confesses that Gru is one of two children, and when she and her husband divorced, they each took one son and never spoke of it again.
Eager to meet his brother, Gru and his family fly out to Freedonia, where Dru has a pig farming business. When the brothers meet, they discover that they look alike, but are polar opposites. Gru wears black, Dru wears white. Gru is bald, and Dru has wavy blond hair. Gru is cautious and reserved, whereas brother Dru is a flamboyant risk-taker.
The brothers team up so they can capture the elusive Balthazar Bratt, who has stolen the world’s largest diamond. They use their dad’s highly sophisticated, villain gadgets to finally take down Bratt. However, but each brother has ulterior motives.
You might be wondering if this is a good film for children. As a parent, I feel like it is suitable for kids ages 5 and up. "Despicable Me 3" is rated PG by the MPAA for action and rude humor. There are several chase scenes, life and death situations, kidnapping, and mild violence with hand-to-hand combat, high-tech gadgetry and use of weapons such as guns, grenades, explosives, and bombs. Of course, all the violence is slapstick, and is not meant to be taken seriously.
I attended an advance screening of the film with some friends who brought along their 5-year-old daughter who is in kindergarten. She liked the music in the film, and jumped out of her seat to dance along. She liked the bubble gum in the film, and how Bratt used it as a weapon. She also liked the film’s character of Agnes, the youngest daughter, who makes it her mission to find a unicorn.
The movie definitely has powerful female characters. As a subplot, Lucy feels uneasy about being the girl's new mother. Lucy is skilled as a spy, but being a stepmom and wife is new territory for her. This is one time where Lucy is in a situation that she is not sure of how to handle. It is fun to watch her navigate in her role as a stepmom. In Freedonia, Lucy encourages the girls to embrace the culture by taking part in a local cheese festival, but Lucy’s well-intended efforts only lead to disaster when she loses track of Edith and Agnes, and then she almost gets Margo engaged to a weird boy from the town.
I also liked the male characters in the film, in spite of all their insecurities. Gru has an identity crisis after losing his super spy/anti-villain job, as he wonders what he can do with his life, having no other marketable skills. His brother Dru also has an identity crisis. He appears to be successful and wealthy as a pig farmer, but Dru’s wealth is all inherited from his father being a super villain. Dru admits that he was constantly dismissed by his father as a disgrace, which made him feel like he couldn’t do anything right.
The funniest character in the film is undoubtedly Balthazar Bratt, the childhood prodigy / criminal mastermind. Anyone who grew up in the 80s will laugh at how Bratt uses 80s memorabilia as part of his villainy — a Simon game, exploding Rubik’s cubes, listening to cassette tapes, weaponized “keytar” (keyboard on a guitar strap,) and the bubble gum he chews as a secret weapon. I loved all the 80’s music in the film, and it is so funny when Bratt challenged Gru to a “dance fight.”
My review would not be complete without mentioning the minions, who were clever, witty and made me smile. The minions revolt when Gru loses his job as spy with the Anti-Villain League. Their journey takes them to a studio lot in Hollywood, where they wreak havoc and draw the attention of the police. They accidentally wander onto the set of a talent competition (similar to "America's Got Talent") where they burst into song and dance. Although the audience loves their performance, the minions are arrested and thrown into jail for breaking and entering. That's when they realize that surviving without Gru is more challenging than they thought it would be, so they try to break out of prison.
If you liked the previous "Despicable Me" films, you will not be disappointed with this newest sequel. I give it two thumbs up.
"Despicable Me 3" opens in theaters on Friday, June 30.