Unlike Pixar’s films, I’ve never felt anything resembling a “pull factor” when it came to Universal’s or Dreamwork’s animated films—more specifically those by Illumination. Not that they were bad, they just never felt like anything that would result in an experience even comparable to the likes of Toy Story or Up or Inside Out.
However, the animation film company would always be remembered for at least one iconic franchise: Despicable Me.
With a cast that was as entertaining as it was star-studded, the first film carved itself a little place on a mantle almost entirely occupied by Disney with the occasional entry from DreamWorks adding some colour to the shelf.
While the second Despicable Me quickly felt like it was already treading on old grounds, the addition of Kristen Wiig’s new character, as well as her dynamic with Steve Carell made for some casual entertainment.
Unfortunately, Despicable Me 2 was also the result of witnessing the explosive potential of the Minions as a merchandising opportunity and this took a toll on the movie itself… culminating in a standalone Minions movie which pretty much killed any stray brain cell still attached to the franchise.
Thankfully, Despicable Me 3 is fully aware of the possible Minion fatigue (from their marketing with McDonald’s alone) and is careful to not rely on the mass of yellow creatures for entertainment. Instead, we’re treated to a moment of actual plot consequence before the streamlining of the movie’s cast of character to Gru, Lucy, their adoptive daughters, and a scant two Minions.
Despicable Me 3 does not push the boundaries of story-telling but it does offer a sense of comfort to those who may have grown up alongside the franchise over the last 7 years.
An option for remarkable improvement, however, would be to have Gru and the current cast moved aside for the next few movies and maybe focus on the many other colourful villains of this wacky world.
Newcomer Balthazar Bratt (voiced by animation legend Trey Parker) is a scene-stealer who… well, steals. A standalone, single movie on him would be an interesting and refreshing take while also keeping the franchise alive.
Despicable Me 3 is now out in all theatres and is worth a watch before the end of the June holidays… and before Spider-Man slaughters the box office.