The popular minions are back for the fourth time in Despicable Me 3. Unfortunately for the funny little buggers, this time around they seem surplus to requirements.
Despicable Me 3 finds bad guy turned good Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) and his partner Lucy Wilde (Kirsten Wiig) firmly entrenched in domesticity, caring for three orphaned sisters while struggling to be working parents.
After Gru is sacked from his job at the Anti-Villain League for failing to capture the dastardly Balthazar Bratt, he discovers he has a long lost twin brother named Dru (also voiced by Carell).
As well as getting to know the brother he never had, Dru has some ulterior motives, such as wanting to experience a life of crime like their infamous father. But will Gru turn his back on his new family and return to his former super-villain lifestyle?
While there is fun to be had as the brothers get up to mischief while ‘bonding’ to forge their relationship, the film peaks when Gru and Bratt engage in a battle of fighting skills, weaponry, wit and funky dance moves.
Moustache and synthesiser-guitar toting Balthazar Bratt is the star of this new Despicable Me outing. Enthusiastically voiced by Trey Parker of South Park fame, Bratt is a former 1980s child TV star gone-bad, with the fashion sense of Michael Jackson, the looks of musician John Oates (of Hall and Oates) and some evil plans for world domination.
Their battle scenes are funny and fantastically entertaining, harking back to the awesome 2004 animated superhero film The Incredibles. Scenes in Bratt’s hideout and an epic final battle in Hollywood are high points of the film.
However, not as successful are the unnecessary side stories including that of young child Agnes (Nev Scharrel) persistently chasing her dream – to find a unicorn. It’s an inane distraction from the main story.
And the minions, so popular that they demanded a self-titled movie of their own in 2015, seem superfluous and detract from the more enjoyable Gru-and-Dru and Gru-versus-Bratt narratives. The little yellow fellas do however star in one of the movie’s best sequences, after they are imprisoned.
The film also boasts a great soundtrack of classic 1980s tunes, from the likes of Phil Collins, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Van Halen, Lena and Dire Straits, while Julie Andrews, Jenny Slate and Steve Coogan voice secondary characters.
It’s said that too many cooks spoil the broth, and here too many secondary plotlines spoil Despicable Me 3’s flow.
Maybe on that front things will improve – and Dr Nefario will return – in the inevitable Despicable Me 4.
Words by Lee Oliver