By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Reformed supervillain Gru is tempted by his long-lost brother to return to a life of crime. (Buy it here).
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: B+)
While not the surprise that the original film was, Despicable Me 3 reclaims the biting wit that launched the franchise. That wit was largely missing from the second film and the Minions spinoff, both of which relied heavily on slapstick silliness by henchmen who are funniest in small doses. By making Gru the true focal point again the series reclaims its mojo. Steve Carrell pulls double duty as Gru and his long-lost brother Dru, and the affection between the two characters gives the films its spark, as does Gru’s rivalry with trapped-in-the-80’s bad boy Balthazar Bratt. The animation is more lush, the jokes come fast-and-furious, and Gru’s family relationships are as sweet as ever.
IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR KIDS?
Despicable Me 3 is rated PG. Like the previous entries it is filled with slapstick violence, with punching, kicking, and property destruction (all fantastical and played for laughs). There is surprising amount of PG-level innuendo here: a minion points to a statue of one of Gru’s female ancestors and laughingly states “Gru con (with) boobs!” A minion reveals his bare bottom to a tattoo artist (seen from the side) and another covers one’s chest with his hand when a coconut bikini top falls off. Gru’s mother is taking swimming lessons from musclemen in speedos. A man’s clothes are blown off by a sound machine (no nudity is seen, though it’s strongly implied) and he’s covered by a bubble-gum onesie that rides up in the back.
ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
You may be tempted to do what is wrong, even by people that you love, but happiness comes from doing what is right. Sometimes people who choose immoral behavior seem happy, it will not last. As a parent, fight for and protect your children. There is joy in accepting people, things, and life for what they are instead of what you want them to be.
For another hilarious animated film with the vocal talents of Steve Carell, I highly recommend Over the Hedge! Rent or buy it here.