• by Wes Singleton

Despicable Me 3, B-


Rated PG-13, 96 minutes

It's so good to be bad, which has always been overriding theme of the fun "Despicable Me" movies, and the familiar yet charming new entry, "Despicable Me 3," plays on the notion that's it's better to be bad but really good. The animated film pulls few surprises and should have no trouble pleasing the young set, but it's always to see our little yellow friends, the Minions, wreaking havoc and stealing scenes.

The mischievous Minions hope that Gru (Steve Carrell) will return to a life of crime after the new boss of the Anti-Villain League fires him and his wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig). Instead, Gru decides to remain retired and travel to Freedonia to meet his long-lost twin brother Dru (also Carrell) for the first time. The reunited siblings soon find themselves in an uneasy alliance to take down the elusive Balthazar Bratt ("South Park's" Trey Parker), a former 1980s child star who seeks revenge against the world.

The colorful, energetic "Despicable Me 3" is directed by Pierre Coffin (one of the long-standing voices of the Minions) and Kyle Balda and co-written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, who wrote the previous two films. You have a sense of what you're getting into with these films and they're generally not lacking in energy or laughs, usually courtesy of those Minions, who'll have you giggling during the opening credit sequence.

"Despicable Me 3" isn't as original and fun as the previous films, and the weakest of the three, due to its scattershot, uneven plotting, with the writers seemingly running short of ideas. Still, it helps having the terrific Carrell as Gru and now his long-lost twin brother Dru, which takes up a good portion of this film. It's an inspiring touch having "South Park's" Parker as the film's chief villain, an '80's TV kid turned bad, but the writers don't do much with him or his character, and he seems an after-thought (though it's nice hearing all those '80s songs and references).

Instead, it's content with episodic hijinks from Gru, his family, and all the Minions, who briefly go to jail, but not before taking over an "America's Got Talent"-type of talent show, in one of the film's more memorably funny sequences. Parker shows back up for the predictable climax that includes an admittedly fun dance off between he and Gru, and you won't be surprised at all who emerges the victor.

As a matter of fact, the enjoyable "Despicable Me 3" could easily be called "Predictable Me 3," though you're still likely to leave with a big smile on your face.

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