Despicable Me 3 goes on cheesy 80s ride
FILM Despicable Me 3 (PG) 3.5 stars Voices of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker Directed by Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin and Eric Guillon Review by Sue Yeap
Savvy makers of animated family films long ago realised there had to be something in it for the parents, something to make sitting in a cinema packed with squirming children worth an hour-and-a-half of their lives.
Thankfully, directors Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin and Eric Guillon have geared this latest instalment in the hit Despicable Me franchise firmly at parents who grew up in the 1980s without making it inaccessible to anyone born long after moonwalking and Hammer pants were a thing.
DM3 sees Gru (Steve Carell) and Lucy (Kristen Wiig) sacked by the Anti-Villain League agency after they failed to stop the theft of the world’s biggest diamond.
This stresses out their three children, with Agnes holding a yard sale of her toys.
The diamond has fallen into the hands of buffoonish super villain Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), a walking embodiment of every 80s cliche imaginable — the pants, the shoulder pads, the mullet.
Bratt was a child star in the 80s with his own TV show and line of merchandise, but when his show was cancelled, he turned to villainy.
Then Gru receives unexpected news from the faraway land of Freedonia — that he has a long-lost twin brother, a fact hidden by his self-absorbed mother, voiced in a small but fun cameo by Julie Andrews.
When Gru, Lucy and the girls take up the offer to visit his twin Dru, they are greeted by an over-the-top castle and a man who looks like Gru, only dreamier with long flowing blond locks.
Dru’s claim that the family fortune was made by pig farming is soon revealed to be a lie — he comes from a long line of villains and wants Gru to return to the dark side.
Without telling Lucy or Dru his true intentions, Gru agrees to go along with Dru’s plan, hoping to steal back the diamond from Bratt and get his job at the AVL back.
The reunited brothers go on a crazy mission to steal the diamond, with moments of bonding and sibling rivalry as they face perils including hordes of Bratt dolls that come to life, and a lot of pink bubble gum.
Mel, Kevin and the Minions are along for the ride, albeit unhappy campers who abandon Gru because a life in the suburbs with three kids holds no appeal and they would rather be villains.
The Pharrell Williams soundtrack of 1980s hits from A-ha, Madonna and Phil Collins is the perfect accompaniment to the cheesy 80s storyline, which becomes weaker as the climax approaches.
South Park’s Parker is a welcome addition to the voice cast as the obnoxious, ego-driven and aptly named Bratt, while Carell does an impressive job as both Gru and Dru.
Wiig gets to explore another side of newly unemployed Lucy, who ends up with plenty of time to bond with her three new stepdaughters now she doesn’t have to save the world — for now.
Gru is voiced by Steve Carell in Despicable Me 3.