Before the credits of the third “Despicable” film roll, we get a Minion fart joke, two actually. So there can be no misunderstanding about what kind of film you are there to see. This also being the fourth time Minions have been in a film, there is the temptation to put them front and center. Most other franchises would do that very thing, even in spite of the fact that the Minions already had their own movie 2 years ago. But that is not what “Despicable Me 3” does, and I respect the filmmakers for the choice no matter the outcome.
Gru (Steve Carrell) is still settling into his role as a secret agent for the AVL (The Anti-Villain League), after a run in with 80’s inspired villain Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) complete with shoulder pads and a mullet, Gru is fired from the League along with Lucy (Kristen Wiig). When the Minions discover that they are no longer going to be good or bad guys, led by new Minion Mel they quit. It is not long after this, that Gru is informed that he has a twin brother, who he seeks out in an attempt to expand his family and maybe find a new chapter in his life. When Dru (also Steve Carrell) informs Gru of his family history, he is torn between staying on the heroic path or becoming once again, Despicable.
While this fourth installment of the series does fall right into sequel 101, with introducing an unknown family member,a new, even more over the top villain, a search for meaning in ones life, and a new main lovable Minion in Mel who is being set up to be the star in the next Minions movie. It does however keep the focus on Gru’s journey with a foray or two into the growing relationship between Lucy and the girls. Sometimes it works, and other times it feels forced. The Minions have considerably less screen time than they have had in most of the previous films, they are practically inconsequential to the main or even secondary storyline. The moments with Gru and Dru are about the same as well, some hit and others miss. Keeping the same writing team of Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio from the first two films has a certain consistency, though I can’t help but wonder if the script would have been improved if Brian Lynch who wrote the very entertaining “Minions” movie had been given a chance to punch it up.
With the amount of charters in these films and the countless number of Minions, there is little doubt that this franchise could go on as long as the “Ice Age” movies. And I’m sure that would be good enough for any animation studio, because it still blows my mind that that franchise has made over 7 billion dollars. I think the “Despicable” movies have a slight edge with their goofy fun and the go-to Minions that as long as they keep the stories more focused and push it further with the heart, they can take this in for the long haul with the benefits going to the audience.