To be honest, I don’t really remember what happened in Despicable Me 2 which was released in 2013.
All I remember is that the Minions were hilarious to watch, were part of the big bad guy’s ultimate plan, and that after watching it, I couldn’t wait to watch the solo spin-off Minions movie (which I loved as well).
As for the story of Gru and his family … well, I didn’t really care if they made another movie about them.
Despicable Me 3 changes that though. Yes, the Minions are still around, but the spotlight this time around is on Gru, the original star of the franchise, and actually makes us care about him and his family once again.
This time around, Gru (Steve Carell) gets a new arch-nemesis in former child star-turned-villain Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), who broke bad after his 1980s action TV series got cancelled.
After being outsmarted by Bratt, Gru is fired by his new boss at the Anti Villain League (AVL), along with his wife and fellow agent Lucy (Kristen Wiig). This has a knock-on effect on his personal life – he starts doubting his purpose in life, and his youngest daughter Agnes resorts to selling her toys to help out the family.
Oh, and the Minions, fed up of working for a good guy when all they want is to serve a bad guy, decide to quit.
Then, Gru discovers that he has a twin brother named Dru (also voiced by Carell), who is richer and has more hair. Dru reveals that bad guy blood runs in their veins, and that their father was one of the world’s greatest villains ever. He then offers Gru a proposition – to go back to villainy and pull off a heist to steal the world’s largest diamond back from Bratt.
Compared to the previous movie, Despicable Me 3 works much, much better in terms of the development of the human characters (read: non-Minion).
Dru’s lack of villain experience gives Gru a chance to seem competent for once, and kind of makes you wonder whether the reason he was so forgettable in DM2 was because he just wasn’t … bad enough.
The new villain, Balthazar Bratt, also helps by giving some semblance of a threat, at least, and the constant barrage of 1980s references are also pretty amusing.
The fact that the human characters are much more memorable this time around is also partly due to the fact that the Minions are given a slightly smaller role, whereas in the last movie, being part of the bad guy’s plans meant they had a much bigger presence.
Here, the Minions’ antics still account for some of the film’s funniest moments, but they are back to being the adorably funny supporting acts they were in the first Despicable Me movie.
Not all of it works, and sometimes, you kind of miss having the Minions around (especially during the main heist, which could have done with a dash of yellow to add variety to the sequence).
But for the most part, Despicable Me 3 trudges along like a well-oiled giant robot thanks to the amusing Gru/Dru dynamic, and some tender/cute moments involving the little girls and Lucy’s attempts to try and be more of a mother to them.
While the Minions will always be the most popular aspect of the franchise, Despicable Me 3 is a good reminder that there is more to this wacky world than those little yellow fellows.
Despicable Me 3
Directors: Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda
Voice cast: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Pierre Coffin