DISAPPOINTING: Gru (voice of Steve Carell) and the Minions return in Despicable Me 3. Picture: Illumination-Universal Pictures
2 stars

Despicable Me 3. Directed by Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud. 

Starring Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews.

Like yet another cold, sugary soft drink dispensed from a vending machine, the animated sequel Despicable Me 3 is only satisfying in direct proportion to one’s thirst.

If a wait of two to three years between instalments of this popular cartoon franchise – which includes the 2015 spinoff Minions – is too long, this latest chapter in the saga of supervillain-turned-crimefighter Gru (voice of Steve Carell) and his suppository-shaped yellow henchmen will fill that void, even as it stokes the hunger for Minions 2 (due out in 2020).

For others, Despicable Me 3 is just another swig from the same can of calculated comedy.

Despite the addition of an interesting new character, Gru’s long-lost twin brother, Dru (Carell), the ingredients are familiar. Gru, now married to Lucy (Kristen Wiig), is an upstanding member of the Anti-Villain League – until he and Lucy fail to apprehend the film’s new bad guy: a washed-up former child actor named Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), who has made off with a giant pink diamond.

The opening sequence, in which Balthazar is revealed to be fixated on becoming the evil character he played on TV as a child, is filled with mildly amusing spy gadgetry and jokes designed to appeal to Mom and Dad. 

After losing their jobs and learning of the lost sibling, Gru and Lucy head to Dru’s compound in Freedonia, where Dru invites his brother to teach him how to become a villain. 

Nothing is ever terribly much at stake here – including originality – in a movie that feels as anodyne and fungible as snack food, but which will probably be recognised as such only by people old enough to know what those words mean. Despicable Me 3 disappoints, if only mildly, not because it’s bad, but because it only aspires to be good enough. 

The Washington Post