Yes. We can assure you it’s true, the events of DM2 were no aberration, Gru has officially left his life of villainy to accept a regular paycheque from the Anti-Villain League. Life as an AVL agent plays well to Gru’s very particular skillset and has one irresistible perk: he fights crime daily beside the woman he loves. Gru (Steve Carell) and Lucy (Kristen Wiig) are as head over heels as ever, thriving on the adrenalin rush of the chase before returning home to the girls and a life of domestic bliss. Everyone in the family is delighted with the curious turn life has taken. Well, everyone bar a few thousand heist-hungry yellow Minions.
One bad guy who has held steadfast to his cause is supervillain Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker). The former child star may be new to the Despicable roster but returning writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio have ensured his place in the villainy hall of fame. Still sporting the purple boilersuit and distinctive mullet of his character, the eponymous Evil Bratt, Balthazar has turned all his resentment against the industry which turned its back on him, and years of bubble gum enhanced misdeeds, into fuel for a most ingenious fire. He is going to destroy Hollywood and even Gru will not have the power to stop him!
Stopping Bratt is the last thing on Gru’s mind. The dancing fool is the very reason Gru and Lucy are unexpectedly looking for new employment and poor little Agnes (Nev Scharrel) selflessly selling her beloved unicorn to help them with their bills. Sometimes life can be too, too cruel. And sometimes it can surprise you in ways you never could have imagined. For just as our favourite adoptive family are losing hope, an invitation arrives to pay a visit to a mysterious island of pigs and a golden tressed millionaire with a very familiar face…
The introduction of Balthazar Bratt was a stroke of absolute genius by Cinco Paul and Ken Dario. The poignancy of his refusal to let go of the past coupled with the audaciously retro clothes, accessories and soundtrack from which he has constructed his world of denial breathe new life into a franchise which the overexposed Minions were in danger of killing off. Despicable Me 3 still fizzes with Pharrell Williams sunny songs (There’s Something Special is a real treat) yet it is the unexpected and daft bursts of Aha and Dire Straits which generate the warmth this time around.
Bratt’s backstory and antics allow more on the nose stories about family and identity – particularly Lucy’s fervent wish to be seen as a real mother – to develop gently and naturally. A very sweet misunderstanding over a piece of cheese allows us to see the growing bond between eldest daughter Margo (Miranda Cosgrove) and her stepmum without clobbering us with sentiment. We also enjoy some sisterly time with Agnes and Edith (Dana Gaier) on a doomed unicorn hunt before the story bounces gaily along to the next happy distraction.
This is a great big gummy grin of a film whose earnest intentions to give pleasure carry us through the thinner moments. The judicious sprinkling of Minion mischief allows us to enjoy the yellow guys as an added bonus rather than a tired punchline. Their singing contest gatecrash is one number too far but Claire Dodgson’s spritely edit soon dances things along. Despicable Me 3 surpasses the previous sequel and sits comfortably beside the original by virtue of its joyous pacing, guileless spirit and the quality of the vocal performances. Trey Parker is an invaluable addition to the team.
Occupying that covetable place as an animated movie with something for everyone, we are sure Despicable Me 3 will be a smash hit this summer. It is an utter joy. Brimming with laugh out loud moments (an overused phrase which absolutely applies here) and giving Gru a whole new lease of life, we look forward to seeing where this dynamic franchise will go next.