Animation has always had a hard time generating major revenue at the box office. From it’s inception, it was primarily a tool used for filler content and cheap programming. Disney’s 1994 animated film The Lion King changed that when it became the highest grossing picture for 1994 ($968.5 Million).
It would take Disney several years to fine-tune their systems, and learn how to strategically engineer animated films to not only make children beg for toys, but to also become tolerable to adult audiences. “Musicals”, some cretin in the back of a smoke-filled room gurgled out of a throat stained with centuries of snus and the raw bones of weaker executives.
Out of the top ten highest-grossing animated films, Disney holds seven of those slots, and all of them were made after 2013. The current record-holder is the 2019 remake of the The Lion King at $1.5 Billion. And while we could elaborate on how the term “animated” is being applied to movies featuring hyper-realistic jungle fauna (that farts), we shall investigate another franchise also in the top-ten.
Yes, while Disney holds seven of the top-ten slots, the three others are not only held by the same distributor but the same animation studio. Quite a feat to accomplish when you’re literally snapping at the heels of the company that invented feature-length animated movies. And to boot, all three of these films are sequels.
Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me 2 beat the 1994 Lion King by $2 Million at the box-office (making it currently the 10th highest-grossing animated film, and the highest grossing film of 2013). The spin-off and prequel movie Minions
…has grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide (outgrossing each of the Despicable Me films), making it the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2015, the 20th highest-grossing film of all time, the fourth highest-grossing animated film (behind the 2019 version of The Lion King, Frozen, and Incredibles 2) and the highest-grossing non-Disney animated film.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minions_(film)
While I have seen Despicable Me and Minions, I failed to see the first sequel ineptly named Despicable Me 2 eluded me. So when Despicable Me 3 came up on the list of 2017’s highest-grossing films, I had the choice of either “catching up” or just jumping into the DM3 universe for an experience similar to barebacking a cactus.
So grab some Miracle-Gro and a bottle of silicone lube, and let’s start scraping cavities with this cartoon atrocity.
The film opens with a VHS-styled montage about child-actor Balthazar Bratt, and the onslaught of 80’s references begins. Bratt had a famous television show about being child super-villain that he lost after he hit puberty, and ultimately becomes a real super-villain as an adult.
We then cut to Gru and a character I do not recognize, which means I’ve obviously robbed myself from an enriching experience by not watching the previous film. Within a few minutes, it’s all explained very easily. Her name is Lucy, she is in love with Gru and she works for the aptly named Anti-Villain League. I’m able to surmise that Gru is now a “good guy”, and that makes it easier to market him to little kids since no good corporation would ever advocate a life of super-villainy to children.
Bratt is seeking a large diamond on a ship, as soon as he speaks I cringe at a voice that sounds like a bad-imitation of a South Park character and he dances to Michael Jackson’s BAD during his heist. Gru and Lucy attempt to stop him, there’s a keytar-gun and a betamax joke and he gets away. Our “heroes” new boss with a bizarrely voluptuous figure, hook-nose and kinda-Jewish accent fires them for failing. The opening credits appear to help you avoid any anti-semitic thoughts, and oh shit that’s Trey Parker as the voice of Bratt. What is going on?
Gru comes home and tells his adopted children, short loud girl, crazy middle child and older boring girl that he and their new mother-in-training have lost their jobs. Usually, when a franchise gets this far they eventually get the “Herbie Goes Bananas” treatment. Despite a fake luau in the backyard, the family does end up leaving to go to the fictional country of Freedonia where they interact with bizarre locals and interrupt their customs. Then the film falls victim to third-generation sequel woes and gets all Return of the Jedi on us by sending us out on different plots. Gru is reunited with his long-lost twin brother who wants to be a villain, Lucy tries to become a role-model for the girls and Bratt continues his crime spree in his war against Hollywood (for revenge?) and the Minions are locked up in a prison and must escape. The movie tries to balance out all of these stories with the intent of everyone culminating for the final act. There’s also a hunt for a unicorn and failed pre-teen marriage proposal.
There is also a lot of bizarre sexual tension between Gru and his brother.
When we meet Dru, we find that he is almost a carbon-copy of Gru except that he never made it to the super-villain big-time but is still maniacally rich. He goes from bumbling idiot/sidekick to bumbling hero after Gru is knocked out by an explosion, and the girls wait to be rescued on top of the Tower Records parody-building in the final scenes. The minions have their own arc, and are mostly contained to their own adventure throughout the film. They do not advance the plot in any way, and merely serve as deus ex-machina monsters in the last few seconds of the movie. Is that a bad thing though?
The film literally lasts one hour and twenty minutes, not including the opening titles (which make the first fart sound of the movie 35 seconds in, and the next at 42, both ironically in front of the Illumination Logo). During that time there is no character development, and it shifts from one of the story lines to the other every few minutes. Of the kids short loud girl and middle-child have the most to do on screen, with the older boring girl barely interacting with any of the others for the duration of the film and for most of their scenes Lucy accompanies them. Every time Bratt is on screen, it’s filled with throw-away 80’s jokes that are as old as New Years Day 1990.
I first tried to watch this movie back in February of this year, and the first few minutes of it were enough for me to shelf it for another day. It took a screaming one-month old baby to drag this piece of digital dog-dirt out for a review (gotta watch SOMETHING at 8 in the morning).
Despite being one of the highest-grossing movies of the past CENTURY and being the highest-grossing animated franchise , this movie lacks substance. I was constantly expecting a twist in the vein of The Prince and the Pauper or Freaky Friday, where Gru and Dru would switch places and one would enjoy family life while the other got in one last run at super-villain shenanigans. That doesn’t happen, as Dru literally spends the movie vying for his brother’s affection which he receives plenty of throughout the story. Even with someone as manic as Trey Parker, Balt Bratt is a boring two-dimensional character who accomplishes nearly everything he tries to do unless facing Gru in a fight. The 80’s jokes become tired attempts at making 30 and 40-somethings chuckle very quickly, and I would expect most kids to be rather bored with the movie except for the staggered scenes featuring the banana-loving bastards.
Kudos for the Money for Nothing sample in the climax though, can’t believe a progressive studio like Universal would nod to a song with words like “that little faggot”, but those words were probably thrown around in the writer’s room every ten minutes while attempting to pencil out this $80 million abomination.
Doktor Faux’s Score
This movie like someone printed out pages from TvTropes and glued it to a dart-board. Characters are introduced, the story starts rolling, makes constantly predictable steps throughout and ends. No character development, except for maybe short loud girl coming to terms with Unicorns possibly not being real. But, hey, new animal sidekick when she finds a goat.
Suffering heavily from sequelitis, the movie is boring and falls flat. Several humorous side-characters do appear, such as the unicorn-loving tavern owner and the chubby boy who failed to attract a girl at the local cheese dance but they don’t affect the main story in any way and are discarded immediately.
Steve Carell returns as Gru, and the studio saved a fortune by having him voice two of the story’s main characters. Yet, you can feel Carell falling into the same slump Mike Meyers did by the time Shrek 3 rolled out as a lot of his lines seem mumbled even through his fake accent. Trey Parker didn’t really have a chance to make the character his, obviously reading lines as written in a dark recording booth. I don’t know who did any of the other voices, and I don’t care.
While there is some original music in the film, the only memorable songs come from Bratt’s scenes and they are nothing more than songs from the 80’s including Bad, Physical, Jump and 99 Luftballoons to name a few.
I did love the art direction for this movie, as well as the first Despicable Me. While almost every character has an oddly elongated nose except for the children, the backgrounds and prop designs are incredible. Bratt’s bubble-gum laboratory and arcade-machine control consoles are wonderfully cartoonish and still convey what they are without explanation. Vehicles look great, but fabric and hair still look a little pre-Monsters Inc.
The directing duo of Pierre Cofffin and Chris Renaud splits and Kyle Balda takes Renaud’s place in the second chair. The screenplay writers continue off from the last film, as story writer Sergio Pablos once again did not return for the sequel. As mentioned repeatedly through the article, the story is flat with little internal conflict for the antagonists and a predictable end for the new villain. Jokes are sparse, as is entertainment.
|Average Score||1.3 out of 5.0|