Despicable Me 3 (2017) ☆☆(2/4): When he meets his twin brother

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A few weeks ago, one movie critic I have known said that he was not sure about whether he really watched “Despicable Me 3”, and now I can understand his confusion after watching “Despicable Me 3” two days ago. As its scattershot plot tries to juggle too many plot elements at once, the movie frequently plods and stumbles throughout its short running time, and the result is a bland, uninspired animation feature film which will be quickly faded from your mind once its end credits rolls.

As many of you know, our lovable villain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) went through significant personal change through his three adopted girls in “Despicable Me” (2010), and he eventually came to leave behind his glorious villain career and then join the Anti-Villain League (AVL) in “Despicable Me 2” (2013). After working together for their secret mission, he and AVL agent Lucy (voiced by Kristne Wiig) came to live together along with Gru’s three adopted girls, and the opening sequence of “Despicable Me 3” shows Gru and Lucy in their another mission to stop villain.

The villain in question is Balthazar Bratt (voiced by Trey Parker), a former child performer who was once famous for his TV show during the 1980s but became a vengeful megalomaniac villain after his life and career went down to the bottom after the cancellation of his TV show. His heist attempt during the opening sequence, which is accompanied with Michael Jackson’s “Bad”, is one of a few amusing moments in the film, but this has already been exposed too much via the trailers of the film, so I only had a few chuckles while watching it.

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Anyway, Gru and Lucy succeed in preventing Balthazar from stealing what he wants for his diabolical plan, but then they get fired by the new director of AVL for failing to capture Balthazar. While Gru wonders what he can do in this sudden circumstance, there comes an unexpected news for him; there is a twin brother who was separated from him a long time ago, and he wants to see Gru right now.

After confirming from his mother that he does have a twin brother, Gru and his family soon fly to a small European country named Freedonia for meeting his twin brother. If the name of this fictional country sounds familiar to you, I bet you have seen Marx Brothers’ great comedy film “Duck Soup” (1933), and it is really a shame that the film does not borrow anything else from that hilarious comic masterpiece.

Right after arriving in Freedonia, Gru and his family are wholeheartedly welcomed by Dru, who is also voiced by Carell but looks a bit different from Gru. Thanks to his lucrative family business, Dru has lived in a big, luxurious mansion filled with expensive stuffs, and that certainly impresses Gru and his family as they enjoy Dru’s hospitality.

Of course, it turns out that there is something Dru wants from Gru. Having yearned to taste a bit of villainy, he wants Gru to give him an exciting evil adventure. While he naturally objects to this at first, Gru feels tempted by being bad again – especially after having a big fun with a high-tech vehicle which originally belonged to his father, who was as infamous as Gru once was.

While Gru and Dru come to embark on their ‘evil’ plan, Lucy tries to be a good mother to Gru’s daughters. Margo (voiced by Miranda Cosgrove), the eldest daughter, gives a small advice to her, but Lucy applies it to a wrong circumstance, and that puts Margo in a rather awkward situation. In case of Edith (voiced by Dana Gaier) and Agenes (voiced by Nev Scharrel), they become obsessed with finding a unicorn in a nearby forest, and it is not much of a spoiler to tell you that they will get something else in the end.

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Now some of you may wonder where the hell Minions are. Those little bumbling yellow creatures are excited when Gru informs them that he is fired from AVL, but they are disappointed to know that Gru will not revive his villain career despite that, so they all decide to leave for finding, well, anyone villainous enough for them. Of course, they get themselves into troubles not long after leaving Gru’s place, and they soon find themselves incarcerated in a prison.

All these things mentioned above might be developed together into something really funny, but the film fails to generate any real fun or excitement among its multiple storylines, which constantly impede each other’s flow until they predictably converge on the expected finale. While it surely throws lots of gags and jokes into its story, many of them feel flat and trite, and I became quickly bored and tired within its first 30 minutes.

Above all, the film does not draw anything new or interesting from its main characters. Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig try as much as they can with their respective roles, but their comic talent is mostly wasted, and the same thing can be said about Steve Coogan, Jenny Slate, Julie Andrews, and Trey Parker, who has done far more uproarious things in his TV animation series “South Park”.

While I did not like “Despicable Me” enough for recommendation, I appreciated its charm, and I was delighted to see that “Despicable Me 2” and “Minions” (2015) were more fun than expected, though I gave both of them 2.5 stars for not being better than “Despicable Me”. Compared to these three predecessors, “Despicable Me 3” seriously lacks wit and humor, so I gave it 2 stars, and I strongly recommend you to watch “Duck Soup” instead if you have not watched it yet.

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