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Movie Review: ‘Despicable Me 3’ Is Cumbersomely Cute

For most audiences, there is only one question they want to know about the latest movie of adorable minions: Is it cute? And, yes, Despicable Me 3 is cute. Also, the sky is blue. But that is all these Despicable Me and Minions movies have been since the start. They have always embodied a silliness for the crude and slapstick, sprinkled with the childish doe eyes of pint-sized characters making sweet gestures and jabs.

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Gru is back…this time, with a twin!

There isn’t much else to be invested in with these stories that play more like a pastiche of funny gags rather than a movie that earns its sentimental heart for family. And this latest film gives me little reason to believe that Illumination Entertainment will ever improve anything in this runaway franchise of babbles and bananas, both of which can only be funny for so long.

There are so many plots at play here of lost opportunities that it becomes maddening how frantic this movie is to escape anything meaningful. Gru (Steve Carell) and Lucy (Kristen Wiig) are now a married couple working together with the Anti-Villain League to take down international criminals. This could be a fun avenue to explore for newlyweds trying to function together on the job and balance their home life with their three girls, but the movie seems more preoccupied with their latest mission.

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The new guy looks like trouble.

The villain they must stop this time is more memorable, but not in a good way. Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) is a child actor turned criminal; clinging to the 1980s so hard it has become his villain theme. His 80s themed gadgets of exploding Rubik’s cubes and an energy-generating keyboard guitar are funny for the opening segment where he snatches a large diamond. The second time, not so much. The third time, the joke is more dated than the era it is mocking. I was over his gimmick quickly, which is saying something from a critic who can’t get enough of Michael Jackson and a-Ha.

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After both Gru and Lucy fail to catch Bratt and are kicked out of the AVL by a new boss (another potential arc that goes nowhere), Gru happens to discover that he has a long lost twin brother Dru (also Carrell). Wouldn’t Gru be extremely peeved at his mother for concealing this information for years? Nope, he’s too giddy to meet his brother than to be bothered with further questioning this revelation. So giddy in fact that he hits it off far too well with the overly chipper Dru and his full head of hair. Their clashes are more physical than personal as Dru is a constant klutz and inept at the skill of villainy he wants to master so badly.

While Gru embraces the latest discovery of a sibling, the rest of the family go off on other adventures that don’t clash with the Gru and Dru diamond heist operation. Lucy wants to be a better mother and starts embracing a more stricter tone with discipline and protection of her children. Youngest daughter Agnes, having sold off her plush fluffy unicorn, decides to seek out a real fluffy unicorn. Oldest daughter Margo finds herself trying to ward off a pudgy little boy that takes a romantic interest in her. Middle daughter Edith, the troublemaker of the pack, once more has nothing to do in this story. Middle kids always seem to get the shaft.

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Don’t forget these jailbirds.

The yellow pill-shaped minions are once more pushed into the background, a better fit for their antics as opposed to their leading role in 2015’s Minions. After having put up with enough of Gru’s anti-villain lifestyle, they quit and decide to go off on their own to be bad boys. Of course, they’re far too adorable to be taken seriously as criminals, but they seem to regain their evilness when they all end up in prison, intimidating the more muscle-bound prisoners for some reason. Their bits are so simple and short with the most expected and mundane of prison humor, proving that the appeal of the minions is on its last leg if it wasn’t already hopping to the next picture.

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