This was the most miserable I have been in a theater all year. And I’ve seen The Bye Bye Man, Monster Trucks, Baywatch, and Transformers. This is my preface in which I am warning you that I am about to rip this movie to shreds, but Film is entirely subjective. If you are the sort of person who posts pictures of Minions on your Facebook tagged with Cyndi Lauper quotes, you’re probably going to disagree with me. So by all means, do not let my distaste ruin your filmgoing experience. As for the rest of you, consider this a warning.
“Plot” is a term that I use loosely with this film as it is one of the worst structured scripts of the year. The storyline follows Gru, who has retired from evil at the behest of his new wife, struggling against the urge of nefarious deeds when his long-lost brother Dru requests his help in executing a grandiose heist. The first act of this film is unwatchable. I mean that with utmost sincerity. For about twenty solid minutes the film lazily attempts to transition from the events of the previous film into this one while haphazardly setting up those that are about to transpire in this one. What I mean by that vague, poorly structured sentence is the writers of this movie have no idea what they’re doing. They were presented the task of creating an arch for characters that have all been fully explored and solidified. So the best thing they could come up with was: let’s have Gru have an annoying brother who-get this-has hair. Do you get it? Because Gru is bald. And his brother has hair. IT’S HILARIOUS.
This film’s greatest accomplishment was relegating the minions to being only the third most annoying characters in the franchise. Dru is way up there (we’ll get to him momentarily), but beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most obnoxious character in any of the Despicable Me films has got to be this movie’s villain Balthazar Bratt. This character is one of the most sinful creations I have seen in any movie. He was literally created just to manipulate the parents who took their kids to see this into enjoying the film. Bratt is an annoying miscreant who is caught up in the eighties whose only purpose in the narrative is to make absurd, idiotic references to the eighties so the unknowing adults in the audience will chuckle to themselves and buy this film on Bluray. And buy Despicable Me beach towels. And tic tacs. And whatever other ridiculous merchandise they can peddle, (there’s probably carburetors with minions on them, for Pete’s sake.) Every time the film cut to a Bratt scene I wanted the film reel to eat itself. I would rather watch the celluloid deteriorate before my eyes than experience his pandering nonsense. The worst part of it was, the adults in the audience don’t even know they’re being so shamefully manipulated. A scene in this film features Bratt in legwarmers working out to Olivia Newton-John’s “Let’s Get Physical” for literally no reason and there was an uproarious audible laugh throughout my entire auditorium. Not from children laughing at him being silly, but all adults mistaking exploitative fraudulent nostalgia for comedy. But I digress…
Let’s talk about Dru. Wow. Words honestly fail. So in place of me describing him, use your own imagination. Just picture however obnoxious you might think he could be and then multiply that by about sixty. Here’s the strangest part of it though. His relationship with his brother is……………bizarre, to say the least. It is very uncomfortably subtextual and in a way that could only be intentional on the part of the filmmakers. Why they decided to make such a disturbing interaction in a film designed for children is beyond me, but hey, someone had to greenlight it right? Not to mention the fact that in both his voice acting and in Gru’s, you can literally hear the sad beaten man in Steve Carell’s voice. He doesn’t want to do this anymore, the writer doesn’t want to do this anymore, the director doesn’t want to do this anymore, NO ONE WANTS THIS. If the lack of passion is so dismally palpable, why did they make this film? Because of you. The filmgoers keep buying tickets to these perpetually worsening films so Illumination Entertainment is forced to keep milking those stupid minions for all their worth. I mean seriously, how many times can audiences see a little yellow butt before they stop laughing? Am I going to have to sit through a Despicable Me 4, 5, and 6? Probably, now that I think about it. You can see the studio wanting this to be the end in the way that they push the minions as far into the background as possible. They’re barely in this movie, which is the one bit of praise I can give this rubbish. However, when Bratt’s alarm clock rings with the tune of 99 Luftballoons I find myself actually longing for the days of those little yellow guys saying something in Spanish and then donning a thong. I want so desperately to give this movie an F, but I can’t. It is competently animated and has a pretty fun score save for the disingenuous eighties music. The saving grace of this film is the three little girls. While their storylines did feel like the B-plots to bad episodes of lower level Disney Channel shows, they remained cute and felt like the only part of this movie with any heart left to be seen. I didn’t laugh once, but I’m sure that kids and misguided parents will find this movie to be a hoot. Let’s just hope it’s the last hoot to be seen.
All images are from Despicable Me 3, a film by Illumination Entertainment