At one time, he was an ’80s reality show star, a TV bad boy who fancied himself a troublemaking mastermind in the body of a 12-year-old. Of course, that was then. His pimple-sprouting puberty put an end to all the television fame.
Now the nefarious Bratt is an angry 40-something who’s given up stardom for a life of crime. He’s a heyday-obsessed, balding has-been who sets about stealing things of great value while playing awesome mixtapes. He’s a baddie who sits atop the Anti-Villain League’s most-wanted list.
He’s also the guy who got Gru and his beloved Lucy fired from that villain-foiling league.
Although the formerly felonious supervillain Gru and his honey have made a great baddie-busting team—even foiling Bratt’s latest diamond-stealing plot—they keep letting the annoying shoulder pad-wearing crook moonwalk right through their fingers. And that kind of slip-shod work just won’t do.
On top of his job loss, Gru also has to deal with the disappointment of having most of his Minions march off in a huff. These little yellow banana-loving subordinates are fed up with Gru’s behavior, too. Only in their case they’re simply tired of his reformed nice-guy ways. They don’t want a boss who just looks mean and evil, they want someone who’s really rotten to the core that they can follow and look up to.
Then, out of nowhere, Gru discovers he has a long-lost twin brother named Dru. But while the reunited bros get along famously, and Gru’s adopted girls all love their new uncle, there’s yet another problem. It appears that brother Dru only has one goal in mind: He wants Gru to teach him all he knows about being a super-duper bad guy. And that’s a very uncomfortable temptation for Gru to turn back to the dark side.
Oh, boo. Between a lost job, missing Minions, baddy Bratt and Dru … what’s a Gru to do?
Despicable Me 3 shows us that there is something powerful and healing in the bonds of a loving family.
Gru takes time to connect with his youngest, Agnes, in particular. Young Agnes gets the idea in her head that she can go into a nearby forest and find a unicorn, but she only finds a one-horned goat. “The man said a maid could find a unicorn if she was pure of heart. And I’m pure in heart, right?” Agnes asks. “The purest,” Gru tells her. He also talks to her about life’s disappointments. “Life is like that sometimes. Sometimes you hope for a unicorn and you get a goat.” But when life gives you lemons, goes the old saying, and soon Agnes wonders if it can be a great goat. (Gru assures her it can be.) In turn, Agnes shows her devotion to Gru and her family by selling her favorite toys when she thinks Gru needs money.
Lucy, meanwhile, is having doubts about her ability to be a good mom now that she’s part of Gru’s family. Gru guarantees her that she can and will be. Later, after a few motherly stumbles, Lucy shows herself to be a protective, loving mom and the oldest girl, Margo, hugs her in gratitude. Agnes rolls over in her sleep and calls Lucy “mom.” The girls put together a surprise luau in their backyard as a makeshift belated honeymoon celebration for Gru and Lucy. Lucy also bolsters her husband when he’s feeling “like a failure.”
Gru and Dru’s relationship becomes a bit strained, but they patch things up and express their brotherly love for one another. And even the Minions turn back to Gru, not because of his evil, but because of memories of his kindness and the times he reached out to them with a fatherly love.
The ceiling of one of the rooms in Dru’s palace-like home sports a painting in the style of the Sistine Chapel … only with pigs.
Dru shows Gru and a couple Minions a room full of statues of their ancestors. One of them is a woman who looks just like them. One of the Minions laughs and says, “Boobs!” Both Gru and Bratt have their clothes blown off (at different times) and they end up tangled in long strings of bubble gum in what amounts to the equivalent of a gummy speedo.
Gru visits his elderly mother only to find her in the pool with two Speedo-wearing muscular male “swimming trainers.”
There is an abundance of slapstick thumping throughout this broad farcical pic. Things explode. People are caught up and tumbled around in huge globs of bubble gum. Some people are stuck with darts. Gru and Dru smash things up as they drive recklessly in a powerful car. People and Minions are pummeled with everything from clubs to pig snouts to fists to wet towels. At one point Lucy beats up a room full of men when she mistakenly thinks Agnes is in danger.
On a larger scale, we see a giant robot smash city buildings as it stomps through Hollywood. It then burns up some of the city with a powerful laser beam. (No one is apparently hurt during the rampage. An unconscious Gru is in the path of that beam at one point, but escapes at the last second.) Large rockets are fired, but we never see anyone hit by them.
A use of “geesh” and “holy moly,” and an exclamation of “what the heck?”
Bratt shoots several guards in a museum with knock-out darts.
The Minions pass gas and one shows his featureless yellow backside in anticipation of a tattoo. A few other toilet humor gags are scattered throughout—ranging from giggles about scooped doggy doo to plunging actual toilets. For example, after a dangerous bit of driving, Gru says to his brother: “I thought you were gonna pee your pants!” To which his brother responds, “I did.” Gru’s mother talks of her divorce from Gru’s father and how they both took one of their sons to raise. “I obviously got second choice,” she tells him.
If you watched the first few seconds of this movie—with its little mischievous mascot Minions bopping each other and tooting out a couple flatulence-focused giggles before the Illumination logo has even faded from view—you’d be forgiven for wanting to roll your eyes. And indeed, those opening moments presage a movie powered with a certain childish, sugar-addled energy. The truth is, this whole cinematic shebang sometimes feels like an over-packed clown car of a thing as it rolls quickly forward, trumpeting and exploding and trying to deal with four or five story threads at a time.
But there’s actually a lot more here than meets the whoopee cushion.
Like its past entries, Despicable Me 3 has the good sense to rescue itself. It takes a needed breather to let its seasoned voice actors flex their thespian muscles at just the right times.
As goofy bad guys fume and spy-guy missiles fly, this pic pauses long enough to save the day with sweet moments between dad and daughter, and with tender words of love for family members young and old. Even Minions get a hug and a little you’re-part-of-the-family encouragement.
Those are the kinds of things that make these goofy characters feel just a bit more genuine. They make us grin and think about the precious feelings we hold for the little “minions” in our own lives. And, hey, they might even cause some of us to sigh out a heartfelt “ba-na-na” or two, while we’re at it.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.