The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Despicable Me 3

You've got to hand it to the Despicable Me movies they're remarkably consistent. The original, Despicable Me 2, and the spinoff Minions are all at about the exact same level of quality. None of them is appreciably better or worse than the others. Despicable Me 3 falls right in line. You'd think franchise fatigue might start to set in by now. Nope. The movie is just as satisfying as its predecessors.

We find Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) and Lucy (Kristen Wiig) living in domestic bliss with his three adopted daughters and a slew of Minions. Things are fine and dandy until Gru is fired by the Anti-Villain League for failing to stop Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), a former child actor turned criminal. Bratt has stolen a large diamond that will allow him to carry out a revenge plot against Hollywood for turning its back on him as he got older. Then Dru, the twin brother Gru never knew he had, shows up begging to be taught the ways of villainy. They team up to steal the diamond back from Bratt.

Everything that made the Despicable Me movies popular is present and accounted for in this third installment. The animation is beautiful and filled with visual jokes. The Minion mischief is hilarious. There's evidence of a heart underneath the mayhem, with Gru learning to bond with his brother and Lucy learning to be a mother to the girls. The movie knows what works, and it sticks to the formula.

What's new and, at least to those of us who grew up in the era, rather inspired is the satire of '80s pop culture. Bratt's TV show, which we see clips of, is reminiscent of the cheesiest programs of that decade. The villain's lair looks like a Rubik's Cube on the outside and is festooned with multi-colored neon inside. He sometimes wears a red leather Michael Jackson jacket and breakdances. Rather than being fodder for cheap jokes, these references serve to make Bratt a really interesting, unique nemesis for Gru. It's a good example of how this series puts little twists on its basic ingredients to stay fresh.

Despicable Me 3 has very good jokes, too. The film gets big laughs when the Minions end up in prison. Seeing them engage in prison stereotypes is funny, allowing them to maintain their mischievous nature in a different setting. Easily the most popular element of the franchise, they get slightly less screen time in this sequel, which is for the best. It prevents them from wearing out their welcome, giving the scenes they do have maximum punch.

By this point, there isn't much to left say about the series. Despicable Me 3 knows what it does well, and it cheerfully offers up more of the same fun audiences have come to expect. It's funny and sweet, with great animation and an ending that sets up an intriguing potential fourth installment. If you liked the others, you'll like this one, too.

( out of four)

Despicable Me 3 is rated PG for action and rude humor. The running time is 1 hour and 30 minutes.

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