It’s that time again when Gru, the girls and the minions make their way back to our screens in all their glorious yellowness. Is it third time a charm for the extended family?
Gru, Steve Carrell (The Big Short, Crazy, Stupid, Love), is still with the Anti Villain League (AVL) and is chasing down bad-guy Balthazar Bratt, Trey Parker (South Park, Team America: World Police), with his partner Lucy, Kristen Wiig (The Martian, Ghostbusters).
Bratt is a former child-star from the 80’s which should have provided writers Cinco Paul (Despicable Me, The Secret Life of Pets) and Ken Daurio (Despicable Me, The Secret Life of Pets) lots of opportunities for 80’s jokes and gags, an opportunity missed.
When Gru fails to land Bratt and is fired from the AVL, he learns he has a twin-brother called Dru, also voiced by Carrell, who is great at making money, not so great at being a villain.
Running alongside this we have the minions in their own little story as they get arrested after leaving Gru and Agnes (Nev Scharrel) thinks she’s finally found a unicorn. Oh, and Lucy is trying her best to be a mom to the girls.
If all that sounds a bit fragmented that’s because it is. There are too many strands to the story going on here which means none stands out as the main one with each taking a back seat when not in focus.
I know that these films divide people like Marmite. I don’t mind them, finding the first one funny, enjoyable, they don’t do any harm. But that was when they knew what they are. Now, it seems, they don’t.
I honestly can’t bring to mind one single point in the film when I laughed out loud. It’s all the same characters, with the exception of Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) who sits this one out, it’s the same writers, the same director, Pierre Coffin, but it just isn’t there.
It hasn’t clicked this time round and I think that’s because they’ve attempted too much. The Minions effectively get written out early, the girls story only features Agnes with a little bit of Edith. Margo gets her own story that takes all of ten minutes.
Bratt comes and goes with neither he, nor his sidekick robot Clive, Andy Nyman (Severance, Death at a Funeral), making any kind of lasting impression. The opportunity was there for a plethora of 80’s-tastic jokes and moments, instead we got shoulder-pads, bubble-gum and keyboard-guitars.
If the writers had stuck with Gru, Lucy, the Minions and the girls fighting Bratt that could have worked. As it is it all feels very lame and half-hearted.
Coming next we’re heading back the Minions universe with their sequel, currently slated for a 2020 release. Based on the evidence of Despicable Me 3, there’s a lot to do to convince it hasn’t run out of steam.