Seen 4th July
Despicable Me as a series has become known more for it’s sentient tic-tac Minions than anything else. This movie clearly wanted to try and reverse that connection but gosh darn it those little pills of yellow just keep popping up.
The movie starts with a little flashback scene that introduces our villain and I want to go on record for saying that Balthazar Bratt is one of the most insanely fun villains that I’ve seen in a family movie in a very long time. We learn that in the 80’s he was the star of a TV show that was cancelled and in his fury ended up becoming a super villain who was very similar to the character he played on TV. Trey Parker plays him absolutely perfectly giving him a voice that feels similar to Stan’s father in South Park. He’s also loaded with 80’s references with the opening battle scene set to Bad by Michael Jackson. In fact the soundtrack to the movie itself is impeccable, a great blend of new works by Pharrell and some classic music that fit’s the story just right. It’s often used to emphasize a particularly comedic moment, such as a sequence of Balthazar doing aerobics to Physical by Olivia Newton John. It all works well to create a fun tone that the movie carries consistently throughout it’s 90 minute run time.
Steve Carell takes on double duty in this movie playing both Gru and his long lost twin Dru and to his credit both characters have distinct personalities and distinct qualities to their voices. They’re still twins and still have the same general tone of voice but they have such varying personalities that come through in both their voices and in how they act on screen thanks to the pretty fun and hyper animation style that works for the fun and hyper tone that the movie has throughout.
This film does have a few down moments when it comes to the sub-plots. The Minions for example are effectively pointless for the majority of the movie. They quit right at the beginning and we get a few fun scenes of them afterwards but honestly they could be cut and the film wouldn’t lose anything of substance except a joke about a banana being tattooed on a butt. Also the entire ‘unicorn’ plotline in this movie feels kinda pointless as it has no real connection with the main plot between Gru and Dru and it’s resolution isn’t satisfying. Fortunately the scenes involving the unicorn are kind of adorable which does help but when you have these weird little cutaways to Unicorn hunting in the middle of a giant action sequence, it’s jarring and breaks all tension that you build up.
In this film more than ever, the Minions are there to sell cute toys and that’s fine to an extent but after a while you have to give them some substantial reason to be a part of the film and they aren’t. This story is about Gru and Dru and family, that’s when it works best. When we just explore the idea of family and tradition, this film shines. It also shines when we have a hilarious villain throwing 80’s all over the place. Everything else feels either tacked on or just there to sell Tic-Tacs with faces on them. It is still fun, if you got kids this is a great little movie to take them too and I promise they’ll have fun and you will too… just don’t expect the plot to be on the level of Pixar or something like that.