The best bad guy in town

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

The Ice Age se­ries, which seemed designed to make the viewer pray for mass ex­tinc­tion, stands as a hor­rific warn­ing against the per­ils of adding new char­ac­ters to a suc­cess­ful fran­chise.

By the same logic, the De­spi­ca­ble Me fran­chise ought to be sink­ing. Hav­ing ac­quired three daugh­ters in the first in­stal­ment, a wife in the sec­ond film, and now a twin brother, Gru, the lov­able vil­lain turned Anti Vil­lain League op­er­a­tive, could be weighted down.

De­spi­ca­ble Me 3, how­ever, is such a clev­erly cal­i­brated con­struc­tion that we never no­tice the ex­tra pas­sen­gers. Think of it, in terms of qual­ity, as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the De­spi­ca­ble Me films. It cer­tainly helps that none of the newer ad­di­tions is dead wood.

Ev­ery char­ac­ter en­joys and ex­plores his or her own bright and breezy story arc. Gru would like to stop his evil nemesis, the for­mer 1980s child star Balt­hazar Bratt ( South Park’s Trey Parker), a char­ac­ter whose many clat­ter­ing pop cul­tural ref­er­ences – cue mul­let, gui­tar-synth, and Now That’s What I Call 1980s tunes – coast along, cun­ningly, as a sly pop against pop-cul­ture ref­er­ences.

Lucy (Kris­ten Wiig) would like to prove her worth as a mom to the three girls. Agnes, Gru’s youngest, goes on a quest to find a uni­corn. Dru – Gru’s bil­lion­aire, pig-farm­ing, long-lost twin – would like to tempt Gru back into the fam­ily trade: su­pervil­lainy. Mean­while, the min­ions are ris­ing.

Ev­ery scene and plot point is de­liv­ered as a set-up and gag. The Min­ions, hav­ing grossed more than $1.1 bil­lion with their 2015 spin-off movie, are wisely ac­corded greater screen time and more lee­way for dev­il­ment.

Gru, too, re­tains the mis­chievous­ness and in­fec­tious cackle that made him such a huge hit in the first place. Phar­rell Wil­liams chimes in with his bop­pi­est, catchi­est sound­track to date. That’s all the more im­pres­sive con­sid­er­ing the com­ple­tion is his record-break­ing toe-tap­per Happy.

The most en­joy­able of the sum­mer block­busters has ar­rived.

Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) in De­spi­ca­ble Me 3

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