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Review: ‘Despicable Me 3’ Suggests a Franchise Running on Fumes


The brothers Dru, left, and Gru (both voiced by Steve Carell) in “Despicable Me 3.”

Universal Studios

The latest animated “Despicable Me” outing shows signs of wear even as its energy level escalates. This time, the reformed villain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) is in domestic bliss with his fellow secret agent Lucy (Kristen Wiig) and the three orphans — cute Agnes, mischievous Edith and bespectacled Margo — when he and Lucy are dismissed from the Anti-Villain League for letting a bad guy, Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), escape.

Gru and Lucy enlist Gru’s long-lost brother, Dru (also Mr. Carell), to assist in Bratt’s capture. Dru, who lives in a seemingly Mediterranean paradise called Freedonia (you heard that right, but the Marx Brothers references end there), is obscenely wealthy and has an indefinable blondish hairdo apparently trendy among the obscenely wealthy.

Gru and Dru bicker but find common cause when Bratt — a petulant, mulleted former 1980s TV child star — leads a giant robot of himself and an army of malevolent flying action figures on an invasion of Hollywood. Of course, the short, goggled and sometimes cyclopean minions are on hand, engaging in a prison food fight and dancing in a cancan-like production number. Innocuous pandemonium ensues in candy colors.

The females receive short shrift. Gru and Dru’s mother (Julie Andrews) is a randy yet remote matriarch; Margo is a scold; Agnes lives to find a unicorn; and the formerly single Lucy finds fulfillment when she exults, “I’m a mom, I’m a mom!” The daughters, yes, are rescued from jeopardy. Not that a voluble little boy at my screening objected.

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