More animated anarchy from Gru and the gang, as South Park's Trey Parker joins the fray
'Son of a Beetamax!' snorts supervillain Balthazar Bratt as his latest scheme is thwarted. Getting in on the 80s nostalgia act, Despicable Me 3 sees the megalomaniac former child star (voiced by South Park's Trey Parker) plot his revenge on Hollywood. Stuck in the era that made and broke him – he sports shoulder pads, a moustache and a mullet, and has his own 'Bratt Pack' of helpers – this poor deluded dresser moonwalks his way through a diamond heist in an entertaining opener set to Michael Jackson's 'Bad'.
Directed by Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin (with Eric Guillon as co-director), it finds the reformed Gru (Steve Carell) ensconced in a more traditional family unit with new wife and fellow agent Lucy (Kristen Wiig) and their trio of adorable adopted offspring. Although they're fired from the Anti-Villain League at the outset, their despair is merely momentary following the revelation that Gru has a long-lost twin brother Dru (also voiced by Carell), who tries to lure him back to villainy when they're reunited in Freedonia.
Once again the Minions make for a diverting sideshow; after the success of their spin-off movie, their anarchic antics are elevated to subplot status. When the yellow fellas get sick of Gru's do-gooding and step out on their own, they take a talent show by storm and are thrown in jail, both of which result in laughs aplenty and fun musical numbers. But Despicable Me 3 tries to cram an awful lot into its 90-minute runtime with its parenting challenges, sibling bonding and world saving, while Gru's girls get their own storylines too; 12-year-old Edith inadvertently gets engaged and little Agnes goes on a quest for a unicorn.
It's hard to get revved up about a feature whose shtick has become so familiar and things get a tad unfocused as the plots pile high. However, given that this is the third film in the series (the fourth if you count Minions), DM3 more than justifies its existence with its skilful balance of kid and adult appeal, crowd-pleasing with impressive abandon. Anyone who's been on board thus far will love it, representing as it does a madcap, occasionally risqué antidote to more wholesome family fare – candy-coloured, only fleetingly sentimental and with an embarrassment of mischievous energy, it's a bit like mainlining sugar.
General release from Fri 30 Jun.