[Screen It]


(2017) (voices of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig) (PG)

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Computer-Animated Comedy: A reformed super-villain begins to find himself drawn back to a life of crime when he meets his long-lost twin brother.
Former super-villain Gru (voice of STEVE CARELL) has given up the life as a bad guy. He's now raising his three adopted daughters, Margo (voice of MIRANDA COSGROVE), Edith (voice of DANA GAIER) and Agnes (voice of NEV SCHARREL) with his new wife and fellow Anti Villain League agent, Lucy Wilde (voice of KRISTEN WIIG).

But when he fails to capture super-villain and former TV show child actor Balthazar Bratt (voice of TREY PARKER) who's trying to stealing an expensive diamond, he and Lucy find themselves kicked out of the AVL. It gets worse when Gru's former diminutive henchmen, the Minions, leave his service over his refusal to behave criminally again.

Things look up when Gru discovers that he has a long-lost twin brother, Dru (voice of STEVE CARELL), who lives in another country and is super rich from being a successful pig farmer. But Dru secretly desires to be a super-villain like Gru and their deceased father, and thus convinces Gru to teach him the tricks of the trade.

Gru is reluctant but finds himself drawn back into that world, and decides they should rob Bratt of the diamond, not realizing that super-villain is planning on using its power to get revenge on Hollywood for canceling his TV show long ago.

OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
There's the old saying about the apple not falling far from the tree, and while that would obviously seem to be a descriptive metaphor for how gravity works, it's also commonly applied to passed down family traits from one generation to the next.

It also taps into the old nature versus nurture argument about why people behave the way they do. Simply put, is that based on genetics (if your dad is predisposed to criminal ways, is that in your DNA to act in a similar fashion) or your environment (you grow up around criminal behavior and thus see that as the norm), or a combination of the two?

That's addressed -- sort of, and certainly not in any sort of deep or serious fashion -- in the latest installment of the "Despicable Me" film franchise. Imaginatively title "Despicable Me 3," the film revolves around our sourpuss, but softie super-villain turned good guy agent Gru (again voiced by Steve Carell who still seems to be having fun with the character) discovering that he has a long-lost twin brother, Dru (with the actor pulling double duty and voicing this new character as well).

While Gru has given up the criminal lifestyle in order to be a family man with his new wife (voiced by Kristen Wiig) and three adopted daughters (voiced by Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, and Nev Scharrel), Dru -- who's made a fortune by becoming his country's biggest pig farmer -- really wants to be a criminal like his sibling and their late dad.

Gru wants no part of that, but a joyride in their father's souped up and gadget-heavy crime car seemingly starts to change his mind, and thus he agrees that he and Dru should steal a valuable diamond from child TV star turned diabolical super-villain Balthazar Bratt (voiced by "South Park's" Trey Smith) who's recently stolen that gem himself (when not dressing and behaving in a way that shows he's still stuck in the 1980s when his show was a success). Gru recently tried to capture Bratt but failed, and thus was kicked out of the Anti Villain League, unaware of Bratt's nefarious, revenge-fueled plan with the diamond.

There's some potential in the premise concocted by screenwriters Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio, but the plot is scattershot at best as it veers around wildly from one comedy, spy and family-related bit to the next. Directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin and co-director Eric Guillon keep things moving at a brisk pace with plenty of frenetic and often zany action, but since we've already seen much of what's present in the preceding films (yes, this cinematic apple hasn't fallen far from the franchise tree), the result isn't as entertaining as in the past installments.

That is, except for the minions who, like before, steal every scene they're in, even if they mostly feel as if they're operating in a different movie. Case in point is an extended sequence where they're in prison -- after an impromptu bit of performing on an "America's Got Talent" sort of show -- and become the feared gang among the human inmates. There are some amusing and funny bits stemming from that, but none of it really connects with the main plot.

Diehard fans of the franchise might not mind, but it would have been better if such material had been creatively interwoven with the main storyline rather than coming off as nothing more than entertaining standalone bits. Even so, enough of the material works that the end result is enjoyable enough to earn a slight recommendation and a score of 5 out of 10 for "Despicable Me 3."

Reviewed June 27, 2017 / Posted June 30, 2017

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