Despicable Me 3 Review: Silliness That Only A Kid Could Love

2.5 stars (out of 4)

My 9-year-old nephew gave me a stern warning over the phone before my Despicable Me 3 screening: “Auntie Mara, go in stupid.”

Fair enough. This is a candy-coated world, after all, in which a supervillain turned super-agent named Gru once tried to steal the moon. And yellow minions, who speak gibberish and look like calorie-laden tater tots, have roamed the Earth since the Dinosaurs. Silliness reigns.

Now explain again why this franchise is a cultural phenomenon worth a grillion dollars?

Minions. Enough Said. (Universal)

In the uninspired third go-round, the reformed bad guy (Steve Carell) and the feisty missus (Kirsten Wiig) lose their jobs. They pack up the kids and head to a place called Fredonia to meet Gru’s long-lost twin brother, Dru (Carrell again). Dru, an alleged rich hot shot with a full head of lush blonde hair, runs a pig farm (don’t ask). That’s just a cover for a villain business. But Dru is terrible at it, so Gru shows him the ropes. Meanwhile, the girls bond over a unicorn and a goat that may be a unicorn (don’t ask, the sequel).

The family eventually unites to battle a nemesis named Balthazar Bratt (South Park’s Trey Parker) — a former child TV star intent on destroying an industry that turned its back on him. Two Carells can’t add up to one amusing villain. Kids will lap up Balthazar’s super-vain sass; adults will admire his devotion to all things ’80s. The mullet-haired dude pulls off a heist to Michael Jackson’s “Bad.” He works out to Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical.” He owns a Rubik’s Cube. There are so many blatant retro references that I kept expecting Alf to pop up as his partner in crime.

Gru (left) did not inherit the hair gene (Universal)

Still, the action is way more scatter-shot then sensible. A sense of utter joy is missing here. And even at 80-plus minutes, the story is stretched awfully thin. Obviously the writers are phoning it in — and desperate to make good use of cross-promotion — when the endearing minions escape from jail and end up invading the “set” of an entirely different movie from the Illumination Studios universe. Then again, perhaps finding razor-sharp wit and an imaginative story in an animated three-sequel is the cinematic equivalent of a unicorn.

(Despicable Me 3 opens Friday, June 30)

Originally published at Mara Movies.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.