Well, thank Gru for the Minions, anyway.
Without the little yellow sidekicks, staging a “West Side Story” prison break, singing a gibberish “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” or “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall,” there wouldn’t be much to laugh about in “Despicable Me 3.”
One more pan dipped into the Supervillain Gru goldmine shows this Illumination franchise is a claim that’s petered out, with no fresh ideas — no funny ones, anyway.
The gimmick to “3” is the villain turned AVL (Anti-Villain League) agent Gru (Steve Carell), and agent-wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig) are fired for not catching Balthazar Bratt, a mullet with a bald spot trapped in the ’80s blandly voiced by Trey Parker of “South Park,” and given nothing amusing to say.
So the screenwriters decide Gru must have a more handsome, upbeat twin brother he never knew about back in his home country of Freedonia. Yup.
The rich Dru, who inherited their father’s ill-gotten supervillain gains, would like to learn the business. From Gru. Who is a dad, a husband, and even though he’s an unemployed father of three, determined to no longer be a bad guy.
It’s a gorgeously designed picture, like the similarly comatose “Cars 3.” Check out the texture on Gru and Dru’s woolen scarved. There’s a certain inventiveness to some of the gag problem solving.
But there’s desperation in the manic, random moments of mayhem, to the shrieks of the littlest girl, Agnes, in her pursuit of a Freedonian unicorn, in the limp ’80s moonwalks, fashion sense and embittered ex-child star villainy of Bratt, who even swears in’ 80s “jokes.”
“Son of a BETA-max!”
None of which will register with children.
At least some of that randomness is filled with the Minions, funny to tykes and adults alike. Because Carell burned through his only silly voice with Gru, and has nothing new for Dru, and Illumination needs to get a clue. It’s the Minions that are still funny, not Gru.
MPAA Rating: PG for action and rude humor
Cast: The voices of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Steve Coogan, Julie Andrews
Running time: 1:30