The Despicable Me films aren’t exactly Pixar classics, but they’re sweet-n-simple stories about a bad guy who learned to be good for the sake of his three adopted daughters. Sure, the films occasionally sold themselves out to parents by shoehorning in a dance number set to a song from their youth, but at least they got the basics right. Unfortunately, Despicable Me 3 exists only to sell out.
Instead of adding anything new to the series, the film either recycles stuff it’s done before or takes from something else. It’s bad enough the main villain references everything that was popular in the ‘80s like a superpowered Adam Sandler. It’s worse that the plot, where Gru discovers he has a long lost sibling named Dru, is ripped from episodes of TV shows in their dying seasons (like 24, Heroes, Monk, Charmed, and the episode of Supernatural literally called Jump the Shark).
It wouldn’t be so bad if they told this trope well, but the back-n-forth between the brothers adds hardly any conflict to the story. It doesn’t help that Dru is basically a Gru-shaped minion who is also voiced by Steve Carell but at a glass-breaking pitch.
I was begging the film to cut to the actual minions for some laughs, only to have them do yet another pointless dance number (because referencing The X Factor is easier than writing a proper gag). They’re barely in the film.
Meanwhile, Lucy’s desire to bond with her stepdaughters feels unneeded since the girls are already cool with her from the start.
People often criticise blockbuster action films like Transformers for doing nothing new, slumping on the storytelling, and leaning too hard on its name to get audiences in. This is what Despicable Me has become; it’s just aimed at the whole family.
In fairness, it has a couple of chuckles and a pretty cool action scene near the end. It might have stopped this getting one star if it wasn’t for two words: “Dance fight!”