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'Despicable Me 3' Review: Harmless, Wacky Fun

By TK Burton | Film | July 5, 2017 |

By TK Burton | Film | July 5, 2017 |

Reviewing films like Despicable Me 3 seems almost like time wasted — if you’ve got kids who love those goofy little Minions and the exploits of mad-scientist-with-a-heart-of-gold Gru (voiced by Steve Carrell), you’re going to see it. If you’re more stone-hearted and you don’t care for their shtick, you’ll pass. And truth be told, there’s validity in both of those viewpoints. Personally, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the franchise to-date, including the Minions-centric offshoot, Minions. And I’ve got the added impetus of a five-year-old boy who finds their hijinks to be utterly hilarious, so it’s basically a slam-dunk that I’m going to be in the seats.

And so we were. Me and Wee-K took some time on a hot, sweaty Saturday afternoon to catch up with Gru, his new wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig), and their adorable trio of adopted moppets as they took on a new adversary named Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker). Thrown into the mix is the discovery of Gru’s long lost twin brother Dru (Steve Carrell, duh), and a somewhat half-baked plot to become villains again after Dru and Lucy are fired from their jobs as secret agents due to a botched apprehension of Bratt. There are kidnappings and silly gadgets and goofy jokes, and the minions speak in their weird, silly language and make fart jokes. Flying cars and missiles and mass destruction ensue, and there are all manner of throwaway gags peppered with just enough adult references so that parents don’t leave with a headache.

And it’s fine. It’s good, harmless, wacky fun. My kid adored it. I laughed a few times. The star for the parents will be Bratt, who was a genius addition as a villain. The premise is that Bratt is a failed ’80s child star, back to steal a priceless gem that he’ll use to power a superweapon and take revenge on the world that rejected him once he got too old. The catch is that Bratt has never grown up, so his entire existence — his wardrobe, hairstyle, patois, and even his weaponry — are all throwbacks to the ’80s. This includes a nonstop barrage of ’80s music as he plans his nefarious-but-ridiculous heists, and I have to admit… it’s pretty damn fun. Parker is the perfect voice actor for the role, and he has the time of his damn life doing it. It’s like watching an ’80s trivia game become animated in the form of a super villain, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t fall for it.

As for Gru and his ever-expanding family? They’re comfortably and predictably the same. They’re fun, and their jokes mostly land, even if some land more softly than others. I’m certain that in the coming weeks, my son will begin his constant barrage of “Guess what happened in the new Despicable Me movie, Dad” and then proceed to tell me the plot of a movie that I sat next to him for. Because that’s what five-year-olds are put on this damn earth for — to tell you shit you already know, over and over again, as if it’s new information. And of course, your job as a dad is to pretend it’s a) the first time you’ve heard it and b) the funniest shit ever.

But that’s OK, to be honest. That’s what families do — they replay the same jokes, they learn some new ones. They find humor in reinventing the same stories. Which is basically what you’ll get out of Despicable Me 3 — the comfort and humor found in the familiar. It’s fun, even if it’s repetitive. It’s inoffensive and silly, and your kids will enjoy it, and you won’t mind it. And on a hot-as-hell Saturday afternoon, with some snacks and a cold beverage, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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TK Burton is the Editorial Director. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.