Review: 'Despicable Me 3', Minions To The Rescue? Not So Much.

You know what Illumination should do for the inevitable Despicable Me 4? It should be about reformed supervillain Gru (Steve Carell) stealing back his own franchise from the Minions he employs. Not only were they the only characters anybody cared about after the smash 2010 film, they went on to have their own Minions spinoff, which did bigger business than any Gru-led movie, but they now occupy a huge amount of space in the Despicable Me films. Despicable Me 3 sees the Minions have their own subplot yet again, while all of the time spent with Gru feels like filler.

In fact, Despicable Me 3 is at its best whenever Gru isn't around. But that doesn't necessarily mean the Minions are very funny, either. Their side adventures may have grown in size but they're pretty forced and inconsequential, with musical numbers that would make better YouTube videos than as any part of a feature film. This time around, Gru squares off against the best villain he's ever had, former '80s child actor Balthasar Bratt (South Park's Trey Parker), who still lives in the bygone era and has all the vintage clothes, phrases, and dance moves to prove it. This dude rocks a mean purple suit that he might've stolen from Prince's closet, a set of shoulder pads, a super mullet, and he clearly knows Michael Jackson's discography by heart. He's set to get revenge on Hollywood for axing his show, if only Gru would stop getting in the way.

But Gru has other things to deal with. After letting Bratt get away once too often, he and wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig) are fired from the Anti-Villain League. The Minions hope this means a return to villainy, but Gru continues to walk the straight and narrow until he discovers his long-lost brother, the wavy-haired Dru (Carell again), who tells him they come from a long line of supervillains. Gru gets back in the bad guy game behind Lucy's back, in hopes of facing Bratt one more time.

The problem is that Dru isn't especially funny, and the screenwriters don't seem to have a clue what to do with him. He starts out as the successful and rich pig farming magnate, but at the drop of a hat he becomes a blathering idiot hanging on to Gru's coattails. And that may explain why there is such a severe lack of focus, with our attention split between multiple storylines of decreasing interest. The Minions strike off on their own, invade a competition show, and wind up behind bars for an overlong, single-joke stretch in prison. Lucy struggles to bond with the girls, Margo gets engaged, Agnes goes off in search of unicorns. Little of it works, and often is just a retread of jokes that worked in the first movie. Yeah, that "He's so fluffy!!!" thing worked once, but come on. That's enough already. The Minions were at their best when they didn't have individuality. Kinda defeats the purpose, doesn't it? Isn't that part of the gag?  Bratt kills it, though. What's not funny about a guy with a Tom Selleck mustache doing the Running Man in a purple tracksuit? EVERYTHING is funny about that.

Unfortunately, it looks like the next film will pick up a lot of what Despicable Me 3 lays down. I guess we'll have to count on Minions 2 to play hero and save the day.

Rating: 2 out of 5