Sunday, July 16, 2017

Theatrical Review: Despicable Me 3

Date: Sunday, July 9 2017
Time: 11:45am
Party: 3 (my mom, sister and I)

Directors: Pierre Coffin (directed previous "Despicable" films), Kyle Balda (directed Minions & The Lorax) and Eric Guillon (a character designer for "Sing" and several other films)
Writers: Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio

Gru & Dru- Steve Carell
Lucy- Kristen Wiig
Minions- Pierre Coffin
Balthazar Bratt- Trey Parker (yeah, one of the 2 guys behind "South Park")
Fritz/Ramsbottom- Steve Coogan
Margot- Miranda Cosgrove
Edith- Dana Gaier
Agnes- Nev Scharell
Clive the Robot- Andy Nyman

Duration: 90 minutes (+2 trailers)


Opening Comments

I forgot which movie we were going to see when they aired the trailer. The music and all the fun action happening was enough to sell me on this movie, not to mention it's been a good franchise up to this point.
Although part of me wonders if it's already worn out its welcome.
We got to the theater and a sign on the door said two of the theaters didn't have air-conditioning. This is a small local place, so it doesn't have the best facilities. But hey, it's close by. That's kinda hard to argue with.
It was the three of us and three other people. Then maybe a dozen other people showed up during the trailers or the first couple minutes of the movie. But considering we had to be told we were in the wrong theater (it said 3 Despicable, so we thought it was the right movie- not because it was where the 3D version would be later... but at least there was no issues with the screen or sound system, so I really shouldn't complain).


First there was a teaser for the Emoji Movie. It was narrated by the "meh" emoji with various other things going on. We get more from the trailers shown on TV, but they only show one trailer where it seems like the poo emoji is one of the most famous because he's very full of himself.
Me, I like these things as much as the next person. Heck, my favorites are the :P face, followed by the winkie face, and on Twitter, I've gotten into using the purple umbrella with rain drops for my Prince tweets and comments. And (a messageboard where I got my start in the fan community 10 years ago) used these things LONG before they were popular for cell phones. But we called them emoticons. And I still like that name better than "emojis"... I'm sorry, that always sounded lame to me. And by extension, this movie looks kinda lame. Like they're trying to commercialize emojis even more with a storyline that reads like a cheap imitation of "Inside Out."
I believe "Angry Birds" failed at the box office, but the fact the game isn't as popular as it used to be might have more to do with it than the idiocy of trying to do a movie about something you find on your phone. And don't get me started on the TV game show of "Candy Crush." What the heck is Mario Lopez even doing hosting that? He's probably the most successful alum from "Saved by the Bell" with various other hosting gigs on better shows and he's a part-time DJ. It's not like he needs the money... I don't think...
I'd spent way too much time on this thing I'm deeming a waste of time, moving on...

Leap!, by contrast, has the potential to be something really good. In a year where there really haven't been any standout animated movies, I can see this winning an Oscar. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
It's a story about a boy and girl who grew up in an orphanage and both have big dreams. The girl (played by Elle Fanning... whatever happened to her sister, Dakota... did Twilight "ruin her career" too or did she just outgrow her niche, which was precocious child star?) wants to be a dancer for a ballet company. The boy (played by Nat Wolff- this guy from two movies based on books by an author whose name escapes me...John Green... he's really getting a lot of good material coming his way) wants to be a world-famous inventor.
I was thinking while watching this that animation has come such a long way since Walt Disney did "Snow White"-- THAT was groundbreaking, but we now have 3D animation with really life-like human characters.
We'll see how the critics react (I don't put a lot of stock in critics, but I still check out what they say on some things), but this has a lot of potential, I think.
I just don't know if these kids are brother and sister or friends because there's a scene where the guy seems to be falling for the girl...and that'd be icky and not-so-kid friendly if they were related.

Geesh... I've had so much to say about the trailers, and I don't know if I'll have as much to say about the actual movie.

The Main Event

Here's the basic story-- Gru and Lucy (his new wife from the previous movie) are given the mission to bring Balthazar Bratt to the Anti-Villian League and thwart his attempt to steal a rare pink diamond (they don't call it the Pink Panther, but it might as well be).
However, while they manage to retrieve the diamond, Bratt gets away. And the new leader of the AVL fires Gru for this mistake (and Lucy, who says in the trailer that she'll have to fire her as well).
The Minions take this news in a positive way. Led by Mel, they decide they want to go back to villainy. Something Gru doesn't want now that he's happily married to someone who catches bad guys. So the Minions abandon him and due to some shenanigans they commit, they wind up in jail.
Gru also finds out that he has a twin brother named Dru. The whole family goes to another country to meet him. Dru reveals that their father was a great villain and he wants the two of them to go into the villain business together. Not telling his brother, Gru's plan is to gnab Bratt and bring him to the AVL to get his and Lucy's jobs back. Meanwhile, Agnes, the youngest of the three girls, is on a quest to find a real-life unicorn after hearing a barkeep in town rave about one.
And Bratt has another evil plot in mind and it involves getting back at Hollywood.

Balthazar Bratt is probably one of the most unique, most slyest, but goofiest villains I'd seen in any movie. He was a child star who had a show where he committed heists. The show got cancelled the moment he hit puberty and it got super awkward super fast to see a pimpled teenage Bratt say his noted catchphrase "I've been a bad boy."
His methods, funny enough, are real-life versions of things he did in his show. Only in an animated movie would they be able to get away with this and I thought that was kinda cool.

The best part, for me personally... his show was big in the 80's, so this guy is all about the 80's references. He wears a purple body suit with big shoulder pads. He has a keytar that not only produces a killer soundtrack for dance fights, but it literally blew Gru away and his clothes right off his back.
However, it did get to a point where I thought to myself: did the writers really love the 80's, as I do... or were they making fun of all the pop culture cheese that decade produced? It's hard to tell. Because after a while, I was even tiring of it, which made me sad. I guess you really can have too much of a good thing.
Then everything was okay after when he first unreleased a legion of his own action figures (merchandise that nobody bought, apparently) and calls them... wait for it... The Bratt Pack! [Brat Pack movies are among my all-time favorites... although the best of them is The Breakfast Club, followed by Ferris Bueller and the rest aren't quite at the same level]

As for the soundtrack... 80's songs included
"Bad" by Michael Jackson

"Into the Groove" by Madonna (my favorite song by her, by the way)
"Sussido" by Phil Collins (if you're one of those people who accused him of stealing this song's synth line from Prince's song "1999"... this movie has that 80's pop trifecta... I am not nearly THAT crazy)

"Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits (one of the best 80's videos ever!)
"Take on Me" by A-Ha

...I'm sure there were more, but those were the best of the bunch.

We've gotten to know Margo, Edith and Agnes a bit over these three movies. Margo is only 12, but she comes off as 16 (but she's also played by 20-something Miranda Cosgrove). She went from being the one in charge to the boy-crazy teenage to... kinda being embarrassed by her new stepmom, who makes her be nice to this local boy. Something that backfires, but how it resolves gets them closer as a result.

Agnes's cuteness still hasn't grown out its welcome, at least for me anyway. She represents the kid in all of us who wants to believe that unicorns are real and she just might get her wish this time to have a real one.
Edith... I still don't know what her character is supposed to be. She spent all of the last movie dressed in a karate/ninja outfit. In this movie, she likes pranking Fritz, the butler at Dru's mansion and she goes with Agnes to find the unicorn, but she's not quite believing it. I don't know-- so much attention has been given to the other two girls, I just don't get her the same way. And we're three movies in.

Of course, we have the Minions. They spend most of the movie in jail and, maybe because they have the numbers, they wind up ruling the roost. (At least it makes a lot more sense than Austin Powers 3 where Dr. Evil and Mini-Me manage the same thing with just the two of them). All the while, Mel (a Minion we hadn't gotten to know before this movie) starts regretting his decision to leave Gru and reflects on their time together. He acts like such a tough guy by leading this revolt, but the flashbacks show he was kind of a baby.
Sure, their cuteness legitimized them getting their own movie with origin story and everything... but I think that might have worn out its welcome a bit.

And Lucy spends most of the movie trying to adjust to her new role as stepmom. Which isn't perfect, but then again, who is?
One of the most often aired trailers for this movie has her saying to Gru and Dru "so you're villians now?"... that scene never happened in the movie! At one point, it appears she's starting to get the scent that something isn't quite right with those two, but there's no confrontation scene.

Of course, Steve Carell plays both roles of Gru and Dru. And they both have their individual quirks. It's kinda funny how each was raised by a single parent and that parent told their kid that they were the biggest disappointment. Yet when Gru is part of this job he's pulling with his brother, it really seems like he's a better villain than he appeared to be in the original Despicable movie. Meanwhile, Dru is a big klutz that nearly ruins everything. But they do come together in the end and come out on top.

Bratt may seem like a goof super obsessed with the 80's, but he does have moments of brilliance in his own villainy. Although there was one moment that happened that I saw through the deception almost immediately... maybe the writers wanted it easy for the adults to guess or they didn't... either way, I liked feeling super smart for a moment as long as it lasted.

The movie as a whole... it's not bad, but being the 2nd sequel of one really good movie... there were times where I was thinking it's getting stale and maybe they should quit while they're ahead.
However, the final act of the movie is really good. Very action-packed and exciting and it was fun to be back in the 80's again.

Grade: B+

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