When the full-length animated film, “Despicable Me,” was produced and released years ago, movie industry insiders saw it as a cleverly “trendy” move, a smart reading of the more cynical times.
Its decision to make its protagonist an antihero was a sardonic twist that gave the flick a cheeky appeal all its own, resulting in a successful run for the “negatively knowing” production.
Its follow-up film, “Despicable Me 2,” was less effective, because it was like a good joke told twice over.
That time around, the truly nasty protagonist, Gru, had second thoughts and sought to make amends by working for the good guys, instead.
The self-imposed comeuppance was morally upright, but not sufficiently funny, so we thought it would be the end of the once high-flying franchise.
But, trust movie producers to keep wanting to laugh all the way to the bank, so the franchise has been resuscitated for a third comedic canter around the park, with “Despicable Me 3” currently on view.
This time around, the now good-guy protagonist has found his match in a super-nasty villain, Balthazar Bratt, whose dastardly schemes he has failed to foil.
So, he’s been fired from his job and is at loose ends—until he meets up with a twin, Dru, he never even knew he had.
Luckily for him, his brother is rich and is literally living off the hog—he’s made his fortune in the pig business. But, unluckily, he has sought out and found his long-lost bro because he wants to fulfill his biggest dream—to become a villain himself!
Of course, it’s the height of irony that he wants his brother to effect the nasty transformation for and with him, because our original protagonist has already been there, done that.
Still, our antihero decides to give his twin what his eagerly evil heart most desires, and forces himself to “go nasty” again.
The new plot and character twist does make for an eventful thematic turn, but it doesn’t result in a freshly funny film.
What does work well for the production is its impressively imaginative visualization, with some of its scenes looking really well-conceptualized and executed, and visually droll.
In fact, some of its stylish sequences linger in the mind long after their comedic content has gone pffft! Designers and animators, take a well-deserved bow.
But, vivid and yummy visuals aren’t enough to sustain the viewers’ interest in an animated feature, so “Despicable Me 3” fails to keep viewers giggling and chortling all the way.
Still, the persnickety and peripatetic presence of the franchise’s nasty but weirdly lovable Minions enliven the proceedings in spots.
Unlike Gru, they absolutely refuse to turn a new leaf, so their mirthful propensity for mischief reminds us of the film franchise’s original, offbeat appeal.
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