reviewed by: Keith Soencksen
stealing in the Bible
Kristen Wiig … Lucy Wilde (voice)
Steve Carell … Gru / Dru (voice)
Julie Andrews … Gru's Mom (voice)
Steve Coogan … Silas (voice)
Russell Brand … Dr. Nefario (voice)
Jenny Slate … Valerie Da Vinci (voice)
Miranda Cosgrove … Margo (voice)
If you had told me back in 2010 that my family and I would enjoy the Despicable Me franchise, I would’ve said you’re crazy. When the first one came out that year, I recall wondering why any self-respecting Christian would waste time and money on a kids’ film with such a self-deprecating title. True, American society has gone way overboard with the self-esteem movement, but this seemed to be like sliding into the opposite ditch. But eventually we saw it and liked it. We found the humor very good, and the story of a bumbling, amateur “villain” (Gru) becoming a loving father was surprisingly heart-warming. We enjoyed the second installment too, although we had perhaps set our expectations a little too high based on the first one.
The third film in the series starts with the same basic cast of characters, this time battling new villain Balthazar Bratt. Another new addition is Gru’s twin brother Dru (could his name be anything else?), both voiced by the very talented Steve Carell.
The plot begins with Gru and Lucy as special agents working for the Anti-Villain League (AVL), which is trying to bring down Balthazar. As a villain, Balthazar is far more goofy and odd than he is scary or evil. When Gru and Lucy fail, they are fired by the AVL’s new head, and they come home jobless.
Soon thereafter, Gru becomes aware of a twin brother that he never knew he had. Dru brings Gru and Lucy to his lavish pig farm, which we learn is merely a front for underground villainy. Dru’s character is purposely ostentatious and obnoxious, , and he initially tries to recruit Gru back into being a villain. Before long however, the brothers and Lucy are fighting to bring down Balthazar Bratt, who is intent on stealing the world’s largest diamond.
Nothing about DM3 is overly concerning, especially if you are familiar with the first two DM movies. The violence is all of the cartoon variety and pretty tame by today’s standards. In fact, when the main characters face off, it is done in the form of a “dance fight” set to music. Nothing graphic or scary.
Like most kids’ movies these days, there is a fair amount of potty humor to wade through. There are farts, burps, joking references to private parts, peeing one’s pants, and the like. Though unnecessary, it has become standard fare. Although there’s no shortage of it here, I wouldn’t say it was overdone or shockingly inappropriate. But viewers who find this offensive should be aware.
Sexually, while there’s nothing suggestive or seductive, there is definitely some borderline cartoon nudity in one part. Gru has his clothes ripped off in one scene and winds up covered in bubble gum. The problem is that he’s about 75% naked, with the bubble gum barely covering his private areas. Honestly, it was more gross than anything else. Aside from this, when Gru’s girls surprise he and Lucy with a dinner party, the minions are shown wearing coconut shell bras. When one minion’s shell unexpectedly falls off, a minion standing nearby rushes to cover the exposed spot (but since the minions are not anatomically human, there is nothing behind the shell).
Language in the movie is clean except when Balthazar angrily uses a term that’s intended to sound similar to “son of a b”, but he of course changes the offensive b-word to something else that begins with ‘b’.
There is no spiritual or religious content aside from one brief and very subtle reference to the “yin and yang” symbol commonly associated with the Chinese philosophy of Taoism. Few people will notice this and there is no dialog about it.
One last caution is a reference to divorce. When Gru is stunned to learn that he has a twin brother, he also learns why he was never told: When his parents divorced, his mother took Gru, his father took his brother, and the parents vowed never to see one another again. It’s a sad commentary on an all too real experience for some kids, and it could be disturbing for kids whose parents have divorced.
In summary, there is neither any significant concern nor any redeeming value to DM3. If you’re looking for a slapstick, action-packed, animated flick that pits a villain against a hero, with (occasionally rude) humor sprinkled liberally throughout, then you probably won’t be disappointed. If you liked the first two, you’ll probably like this one about the same. It’s not the kind of movie that’s worth dissecting or thinking too deeply about. It’s really pretty surface level—again, standard fare nowadays, and about what I would’ve expected for the third in the series.
While the “Despicable Me” movies have been generally enjoyable, I kind of hope that ticket sales are not enough to support a fourth installment.
Violence: Moderate / Language: Mild—“b**bs” / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.