Review – Oh Brother! It’s Gru Times Two! (“Despicable Me 3”)

Part three in a series? Okay, then it’s time to whip out either the A) What, I have a secret twin!? trope  B) the time-travel / amnesia trope or the C) my life has no meaning, so I must go back to the beginning trope. Well, this part three has elements of A & C. And they say Hollywood can’t come up with anything new! Ha!

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Fans of that lovable and dastardly criminal, Felonious Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), will remember his unstoppable crime spree, until he met three orphaned little girls that changed his life (part one), adopted them, and then met his future spy wife, Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) in part two. Now Gru and his wife are agents with the Anti-Villain League doing good deeds. Oh, and let’s not forget those crazy little yellow Minions! Everyone caught up? Good!

Picking up from part two, there’s a new villain in town: Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), a crazed former kid TV star turned evil, who has a penchant for 80’s music, dancing, and using diabolical expanding pink bubble gum. But after Bratt steals a huge diamond and Gru fails to nab him… again…the new director at the A.V.L. fires Gru and his wife on the spot. Even worse, Gru’s faithful Minions (all voiced by Pierre Coffin), leave Gru when they learn that their fearless leader won’t be going back to a life of crime. Harsh.

At least Gru’s daughters, eldest Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), beanie-wearing Edith (Dana Gaier), and unicorn-obsessed little Agnes (Nev Scharrel), are on his side. But quicker than you can say, “trope time!”, Gru is informed of his secretive twin brother, Dru (also voiced by Carell), and off the family goes to Fredonia to meet him in his unimaginative wealth and splendor. Looks like raising pigs (thousands of them) pays the bills! Anyway Dru, all wavy hair and giggly-girl excitement, has a secret to show his brother: their family legacy. Apparently, their late father was a super-villain and Dru is itching for Gru to teach him the ways of being bad.

Reluctant at first, Gru is enticed by all the gadgets and that impossibly cool do-anything jet-car. Meanwhile, Lucy is coming to grips with trying to be a mom for the first time and the Minions (the best part of the movie) are arrested after being on a TV singing show doing a hilarious rendition of the Modern Major-General’s Song from The Pirates of Penzance. While Gru and Dru are having fun, Bratt steals back the diamond, and plans to reenact his old TV show where he destroys Hollywood using a Godzilla-sized life-like robot of himself.

Gru, wanting his job back, tricks his gullible and inept brother into stealing the diamond from Bratt, under the guise of their regular heist. Needless to say, things don’t well and the whole family is later caught up in the massive destruction and widespread panic in downtown Hollywood, while Bratt attacks with no emotion for whom he annihilates. No kidding, this guy must’ve murdered hundreds in the ensuing carnage that he causes with his laser cannon. Sure, Gru saves the day but geez, Louise! Isn’t anyone gonna talk about that white elephant, er… unicorn in the room?

Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, who wrote both the original and the sequel, have really strained the charm for the long-nosed semi-villain, adding too many layers and plots to keep the story alive. Like juggling plates on sticks, it’s a tough act to follow without breaking a few in the process. Bratt is a really annoying, boring, and two-dimensional villain, while Dru is SO over-the-top needy that he begins to grate on your nerves. The plot is very similar to Despicable Me 2, but with dozens of gaping plot holes and many jokes that are just–meh–marginally funny, unlike the original.

The secondary plot of Lucy being a new-mommy-in-training has warmth and depth, but for my money, it’s those Minions that sold the movie. Every single time they’re on screen, I LOL’d big time. Their hijinks, slapstick antics, vocalization (I love their bizarre language), and storyline on the game show and in prison, were worth the price of admission alone. Can’t wait for Minions 2 !!

              

Three Fugitives (1989)

 
A career criminal trying to go straight. An idiot bank robber. A mute little 6-year-old girl. What do all these people have in common? Comedy! In a case where someone decided to remake their own foreign movie for an American audience, director/writer Francis Veber did just that. His 1986 Les Fugitifs starring Gerard Depardieu was a big hit in France, so… 
 
Nick Nolte plays gruff Daniel Lucas, newly released from prison and wanting to go straight after a lifetime of crime, but fate has something else in mind. While trying to cash a check at a bank, Lucas is part of a bank robbery by a dimwitted first-timer named Ned Perry (Martin Short). Local detectives Duggan and Tenner (James Earl Jones and Alan Ruck) can’t believe when they hear about it, thinking that Lucas is back at his old tricks. Things get screwed up and Ned grabs Lucas as a hostage when the police arrive. Bad move there, Ned!
 
After a series of wild mix-ups, everyone thinks it’s Lucas who pulled the heist, not Ned. Add to this Lucas getting shot in the thigh accidentally by Ned and the mayhem continues as Lucas just wants to get his life back. . .without being thrown back in jail. While being hunted by the police and getting his bullet removed by a senile retired veterinarian (Kenneth McMillan), Lucas learns why Ned robbed the bank. Ned’s a broke widower and must care for his adorable little daughter, Meg (Sarah Rowland Doroff), who’s suffering from muteness.
 
While Ned is out trying to get fake I.D’s from Charlie (Bruce McGill), a shady bar owner, trouble starts. Charlie wants the alleged $50K stolen from the bank (it was really $13K), and holds Ned as a hostage. Lucas, still reeling from his wound, reluctantly goes after Ned with Meg in tow. After driving a van into the bar (how else does a criminal do it?), he rescues Ned and (surprise! surprise!) Meg speaks for the first time in two years! The cops come, Meg gets separated, the guys hide, and Meg gets put into a children’s home. With Meg facing depression and not eating, Lucas and Ned execute a daring rescue and then plan to high-tail it for Canada dressed as a man, woman, and a little boy.
 
This comedy-drama is filled with both moments of Jerry Lewis slapstick humor, courtesy of Martin Short and his physical schtick, and touching moments with Nolte’s gruff criminal persona slowly melting away as he bonds with the child. Together, the two have quite the Laurel & Hardy effect going on, with Nolte constantly beating the crap outta Short. And it looks really painful, too! This was little Sarah Doroff’s first and last movie. She did two TV shows after this and then quit acting forever.
 
Having never seen director Veber’s French version of this movie, one can only imagine that is just as goofy, slapstick, and moving as this. In France, Veber (as both screenwriter and director) has quite the résumé of films and TV shows under his belt, but in America, he’s only done a handful of forgettable films like The Toy, Father’s Day, and The Man With One Red Shoe.
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