Note: I review for artistry, content, and worthwhile messages. The letter grade is a reflection of entertainment value and is not necessarily a moral endorsement of the film. I break down content as best I can so readers can make their own decisions about seeing a film.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Reformed supervillain Gru is tempted by his long-lost brother to return to a life of crime.
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: B+)
While not the surprise that the original film was, Despicable Me 3 reclaims the biting wit that launched the franchise. That wit was largely missing from the second film and the Minions spinoff, both of which relied heavily on slapstick silliness by henchmen who are funniest in small doses. By making Gru the true focal point again the series reclaims its mojo. Steve Carrell pulls double duty as Gru and his long-lost brother Dru, and the affection between the two characters gives the films its spark, as does Gru’s rivalry with trapped-in-the-80’s bad boy Balthazar Bratt. The animation is lusher, the jokes come fast-and-furious, and Gru’s family relationships are as sweet as ever.
IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR KIDS?
Despicable Me 3 is rated PG. Like the previous entries it is filled with slapstick violence, with punching, kicking, and property destruction (all fantastical and played for laughs). There is a surprising amount of PG-level innuendo here: a minion points to a statue of one of Gru’s female ancestors and laughingly states “Gru con (with) boobs!” A minion reveals his bare bottom to a tattoo artist (seen from the side) and another covers one’s chest with his hand when a coconut bikini top falls off. Gru’s mother is taking swimming lessons from muscle men in speedos. A man’s clothes are blown off by a sound machine (no nudity is seen, though it’s strongly implied) and he’s covered by a bubble-gum onesie that rides up in the back.
ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
You may be tempted to do what is wrong, even by people that you love, but happiness comes from doing what is right (see Mosiah 2:41). Sometimes people who choose immoral behavior seem happy, it will not last (see Mormon 2:13). As a parent, fight for and protect your children. There is joy in accepting people, things, and life for what they are instead of what you want them to be.
For my recommendations of films for all ages check out my book 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families, now available in paperback and Kindle. Visit www.yourfamilyexpert.com for more of my reviews as well as my relationship tips as a licensed marriage and family therapist. If you’re going to BYU Education Week come say hello at my class “Stepfamilies and Adopted Families in the Gospel.”