A Fond Farewell

Director: Eric Guillon, Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin
Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel, Steve Coogan, Pierre Coffin and Julie Andrews
Rated: G
Studio: Universal/Illumination
Running Time: 1 Hr, 30 Mins

I’ve always had a soft spot for this franchise. I fell in love with the minions and their gibberish and antics when they were unleashed upon the world with 2010’s original Despicable Me. I was thrilled that Gru and everyone in his extended family has been given plenty of room to breathe with sequels and stand alone movies. But I’ve also harbored serious concerns that, like many other franchises, this would run out of steam long before studio heads pulled the plug on it, squeezing ever last penny before creative embarrassment forced them to call it a day.

To that end, Despicable Me 3 is a solid, amusing effort and (should be) a fitting farewell to Gru and the girls.

After failing to apprehend international super villain and former 80’s child star Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), Gru (Steve Carell) and his new bride Lucy (Kirsten Wiig) are fired from the Anti-Villain league. Gru’s world is shaken further when he is contacted by his a long lost twin brother, Dru (also voiced by Carell).

Raised by their father, Dru is desperate to continue the family tradition of super villainy. But although he possesses his late father’s array of gadgets and super vehicles (no to mention his fortune), Dru has no experience or skills for the job and tries to lure Gru back to the dark side to mentor him. Now unemployed, Gru finds himself tempted to return to his villainous roots.

It’s nice to se the franchise has come full circle. When we met Gru he was a villain with no family save a condescending mother (Julie Andrews) and no friends outside of Dr. Nefario and the Minions (the Despicable Me movies have also provided nice book ends for Steve Carell’s career as well). In the sequel we got to see him as a loving father who found love and a new calling in life. And now we get to see him reunited with his brother and by the end of Despicable Me 3, his wife Lucy has been fully accepted by his daughters. The circle that opened in Despicable Me seven years ago has now closed and everyone is poised to live happily ever after.

Which is the biggest reason why this franchise should call it a day now. As enjoyable and funny as Despicable Me 3 is, you can tell it’s winding down creatively. It definitely lacks the fresh charm the series had when it first began and it doesn’t (maybe can’t?) pull at the same heartstrings the first movie did. Its obvious if they push it further it will become very stale very fast.

Despicable Me 3 shouldn’t mark the end of everything involved with the franchise though. The movie is careful to determine that the minions are capable of having their own adventures (they spend most of the movie doing their own thing) and Kevin, Stuart and Bob are nowhere to be seen (you may remember that they were the three stars of 2015’s billion-dollar blockbuster Minions). Minions 2 is currently scheduled for 2020 release and they’ve already used the little yellow troublemakers for an animated short that preceded last year’s Secret Life of Pets. So while this may (should) be the end of the line for Gru, Lucy and the girls, it seems there’s still plenty ahead for their sidekicks.

But putting all that aside, if you’re a fan of this franchise, Despicable Me 3 is worth checking out, mostly to wish it a fond farewell.