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It’s been seven years since the original invasion of Gru (Steve Carell) and his Minions (Pierre Coffin) and the Illumination Studios have made a cottage industry of the villain and his adoptive family. The original film provided an endearing look into the life of a ‘bad guy’ and how these cute sisters could help him find his good side. Since this initial introduction, the popularity of Gru and girls have been eclipsed by the bald yellow creatures led by Kevin, Stuart and Dave. After a brief stint with their own film, the whole Gru crew is back for Despicable Me 3, with the expansion of the villianous family.
Gru and Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) are partners in fighting villains and in life as husband and wife. They are agents of the Anti-Villain League (ANL), but the 80’s inspired super-villain Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) continually alludes their grasp. Even with their stellar record in apprehending keeping the world safe from the scoundrels who desire to dominate the world, the unassuming dynamic duo are let go from the agency. They not only lose their positions with ANL, but in the process the Minions decide to leave Gru behind for a life of crime. While they come to terms with their unexpected dismissal and the betrayal of the yellow horde, Gru finds out that he has a long-lost brother, Dru (Steve Carell). This unexpected family reunion leads Gru to make a decision, to return to a life of villainy or to stay true to Lucy and his girls and find a way to bring Bratt to justice.
This is a franchise that has diminished in cinematic value with each installment, but the team at Illumination has managed to find the niche that will keep the bald army on screen, the kindy crowd. Director of Minions, Kyle Balda, and co-director of the original film, Pierre Coffin, provide something for this miniature fanbase and their parents to enjoy. The younger set gets the slapstick humor and silliness of Gru and his villainous munchkins, while the parents are thrown nostalgic memories of the 80’s. None of it has the touching moments that made the first film a runaway hit, but it gives parents of little ones a relatively safe option during the school holidays. The gags do run thin after awhile, but they do manage to keep the family element as a central theme. This makes for some fun hijinx with very little originality.
For the fans of this franchise, the inclusion of a long-lost twin does seem to be a writer’s stretch for a new plot. Thankfully there is no political agenda being pushed throughout this film, which can happen as a franchise continues. The heart of the film is bringing families together, regardless of how bizarre the circumstances that occur around the familial unit. Similar to the experience with Minions, most adults may not understand the appeal of this curious lot of characters. The thing that is convincing can be hearing in the laughter of the children, which is perplexing, but can make the screening of this film bearable.