Upon my viewing of Despicable Me 3, one other movie came to my mind: The 6th Day. If you don’t know this movie, essentially the main thing I remember about it is that the main character, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, keeps getting cloned and every time he does the clones get more and more stupid. And that’s exactly what watching Despicable Me 3 was like; watching a stupider clone of its two predecessors try to recreate what has already been deemed successful. While maintaining solid creativity in animation and dynamic voice talent that should keep fans of the previous films entertained, Despicable Me 3 struggles to recapture the quick-witted vitality and comedic originality of its first film ultimately falling flat in a clunky and segmented mess of boredom and predictability.
Let me preface this review by saying plainly that I am not a fan of the whole Despicable Me/ Minions franchise. It is hard for me to think of a worse fate than sitting through one of these movies, especially when the theater is full of screaming kids. So, though I may not have been the best unbiased candidate for this viewing, I did my best to go in with an open mind.
The art and animation in this film is one of its savings graces. Consistent with the previous films, the vibrant colors and whimsical designs bring the audience into the world and allows them to accept the physics defying aesthetic present throughout. For me, the animation really takes off midway through the film when Gru and his family arrive at his long-lost brother’s mansion. Everything about the extravagance of the island, the town there, and the mansion is done in tasteful over-exuberance. The shape and form of each individual character is something that I truly enjoy. Each character’s personality is physically manifested in their appearance, taking aid from stereotyping which fleshes out these crazy caricatures. Attention to detail is expertly executed complete with authentic hair movement, face shadowing, and subtly attention to people, place, and things that are not the central focus of the shot.
The voice over talent in this film is sufficient and dynamic, though not particularly standout. Steve Carell continues his great work with Gru’s voice, adding interesting inflection and emphasis with his hilarious accent causing simple lines, that would otherwise be overlooked, to pop and make you smile. What is new in this film is how he lends his voice to Gru’s twin brother, Dru. In all seriousness, I did think that Dru was played by a different actor who was just really good at imitating Steve Carell. I was happy to find that Carell was responsible for both! Except with Dru, Carell uses little nuances and slightly different pitch to differentiate between the two voices and bring each character’s individuality to life. Kirsten Wiig, voicing Lucy, was simply that, though it appeared that her comedic timing and unique inflections were quieted and lost behind the character. Margo, Edith, and Agnes were pushed to the background, as was their opportunity to showcase their adorable wit and relationship between one another that audiences had been so fond of in the past. Trey Parker as the villain, Balthazar Bratt, was unoriginal in his approach choosing to go for the obvious choices in comedic timing apparently fishing for laughs.
The plot was predictable from the start. It seems like the story drags on and struggles to lift off until almost an hour into the film. Other than that, it seemed to be a typical underdog quasi superhero story. Side plots with the minions and Lucy’s struggle to be a mother-figure are unnecessary and detract from what could have been a more interesting central conflict. These were futile attempts to add dimension and substance to a film that was trying to regain the acclaim it had with its first two films.
My interest in this film was severely lacking. Try as I might to get into the childish comedy and dim-witted jokes, I found myself all too aware of when the punch line was coming up while also knowing what the punch line would be. I found myself content to leave the theatre already fairly certain of how the move would generally work out, though I remained seated through to its predictable end.
In retrospect of watching this film, I think it would have fared better in my opinion if I had watched it with the perception of a child in mind rather than an adult. However, there are animated films out there that can appeal to a young audience while also keeping the parents on their toes; Inside Out, Tangled, Princess and the Frog, Up, Wall-e, and Zootopia to name a few. I recall a word of advice from my teacher that I received once in an acting class that rang true to this film, and that is: don’t try to recreate a good performance. You can’t go back and replicate, you can only move forward and live in something new, which may end up being just as good even if it is different. Despicable Me 3 would have benefited from a semester in undergrad Acting 3.
|Despicable Me 3|
|Director:||Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda, Eric Guillon|
|Genre:||Family, Comedy, Animated|
|Release Date:||June 30th, 2017|