Despicable Me 3

I have never been a fan of the Despicable Me films. You probably need to know that right from the start. The first one has grown on me a little following repeat viewings with my kids but its sequel and the subsequent Minions Movie both bored and annoyed me in equal measure. I have a low tolerance for mediocre children’s movies. 
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Here we go again then. It would be surprising for the third part of any animated film series to do anything surprising and sure enough there is nothing surprising about Despicable Me 3. 

Illumination Studios, who also made The Secret Life of Pets (which ripped off the far superior Toy Story) and Sing (which suffers in comparison to Zootropolis) do not appear to be interested in adding profound depth, metaphor and poignancy to their stories à la Toy Story 3, electing instead to stick with the big noses, slapstick and fart jokes. The maxim seems to be if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. 

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To be fair, you can’t deny that the Despicable Me 3 formula of comedy heists, high speed chases and low level parenting isn’t broke. These films have a lot of fans and I am sure this latest instalment will be no different. Even by their own standards though, this film is a little tired and anything that was good about the original movie has fallen completely away.

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First off Gru, the ‘me’ of the title isn’t actually despicable anymore. This villain, now fully reformed by the love of the three preteen daughters he acquired in part one and the new wife he got in part two, has lost all of the considerable inconsiderate charm that came with being bad. Realising that this has pretty much robbed the series of its central idea (and much of its appeal) the film makers have found a very easy solution. What they have done is give Gru a previously unknown identical twin. They have literally just duplicated the character but with none of the narrative baggage. This could be mainstream American cinema’s most circumspect move ever in a long history of playing it safe.

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The other thing that was good about the first Despicable Me film was Gru’s interactions with young Margot, Edith and Agnes. There was genuine sweetness here but now he is too busy bonding with his new brother and heading off on a mission to save his pride after getting fired from his job as a spy. As a result the girls are almost entirely marginalised. There are some scenes depicting their growing relationship with new Mum Lucy but they are squeezed in amongst dull action sequences, stripped of the chance to develop and engage as they need to. A subplot involving Agnes’ quest to find a real unicorn is similarly truncated.

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Of course in amongst all of this, vying for their own share of the screen time you have the Minions who if you love them will continue to charm but if you don’t will pass you by completely. This time they add absolutely nothing to the film other than to further dilute its almost nonexistent merits. 

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I know I’m being a huge killjoy and none of this is going to worry the movie’s target audience but there are so many great kid’s films coming out at the moment that I just can’t be doing with all this rubbish. When you’ve got things like Kubo & the Two Strings, Sean the Sheep, Moana, Zootropolis, Paddington and Inside Out why would you want to watch this? Despicable Me 3 isn’t despicable but it is lazy, obvious and painfully unsophisticated. Frankly our children deserve better. As I said, not a fan.

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Is this one for the kids?
Unfortunately.

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The Ripley Factor:
Despicable Me gave us three strong female characters. Despicable Me 2 gave us one more. Despicable Me 3 pushes them all to the side.

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