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Archives for : Illumination Entertainment

Movie Review: “Despicable Me 3” Entertains but Lacks Depth

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In the first “Despicable Me”, Gru (Steve Carell) discovered the meaning of fatherhood and how rewarding it was to care for three little girls who loved him back. In “Despicable Me 2”, Gru discovered love with his romantic interest, Lucy (Kristen Wiig). In “Despicable Me 3” Gru discovers a twin brother, Dru (also voiced by Carell), whom he never knew he had. And somewhere in all these films he takes down an evil villain more diabolical than him.

The franchise sticks with an adequate formula that entertains enough. But unfortunately with each passing sequel, the films seem to be loosing the heart of the story. “Despicable Me 3” begins with the introduction of a new villain, Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), who is a washed up 80’s child star that wants revenge on world that turned on him. After failing to take down Bratt during one of his heists, Gru and his now wife, Lucy, are fired from their jobs at the Anti-Villain League. In the midst, of trying to figure his next step, a strange man visits Gru to tell him about a twin brother he never knew he had who needs his help.

Once Gru, Lucy, and the girls arrive at Dru’s very rich mansion, they discover he is not exactly what they expected. For starters, he has a full head of blonde hair, he has an obsession with pigs, and he’s a clumsy, sweet guy who’s desperate to become a villain like his brother once was. While Gru attempts to reconnect to his old “bad guy” days, Lucy is busy trying to have some mother/daughter bonding time with the girls.

Though the twin brother story-line does offer longer legs for the film’s franchise, you have to wonder if it is worth the stretch marks the movies are beginning to show. The family relationships are excellent factors to “Despicable Me”, but it might be wise for the films to put a little more care and thought into their antagonists. At this point they are meaningless obstacles to whatever Gru is hoping to achieve.

Oh and you’re probably wondering about the minions. Yes, there is plenty of minions in this movie. I found there was a little too much of them. But if you love them as much as little kids do, you’re all set. The minions have their own mini adventure side story that you will either find adorable or an absolute waste of time.

“Despicable Me 3” is an overall enjoyable kids film. We’re given a handful of laughs and a decent amount of tender moments. However, for a film that had such a strong start, I had hoped this movie would leave me wanting more instead of worrying about what’s to come.

RATING: 3.5/5

“Despicable Me 3” opens in theaters June 30.

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“Sing” Plays a Familiar Tune

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Prepare yourself for American Idol with pigs, elephants, gorillas and many more animals.

Illumination Entertainment’s newest film, “Sing” follows a koala bear, Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), who’s on the verge of closing down his beloved theatre after back-to-back production flops. He then decides to produce an amateur singing competition in hopes that it will draw in an eager audience. To his luck and a misprinting of the prize money, a long line of hopeful talents come to audition for the show.

Eventually, Buster narrows down his choices to some surprisingly great singers; which include a gangster gorilla, Johnny (Taron Egerton), a housewife pig, Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a backup singer Porcupine, Ash (Scarlett Johansson), a con artist mouse, Mike (Seth MacFarlane), and an extremely stage frightened elephant, Meena (Tori Kelly).

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Unfortunately, this production does hit a few bumps along the way.  Performers drop out, technical issues arise, and funding seems to be a continuous struggle.
 
But the big picture of this story is really about the usual “following your dreams and taking chances.” Buster followed his dream a long time ago, and with help from his dad was able to own a theatre. All the contestants play it safe in their personal lives, almost playing back up to everyone else in their families. This competition is a chance for them shine and do something that makes them happy. However, the film doesn’t go any deeper than this message.
 
Though the coexistence of different animals might remind you of Disney’s “Zootopia” from earlier this year, it is nowhere near as complex or intriguing. “Sing” is just a much simpler, easy to follow film that should have kids engaged by the music alone. There are plenty of songs to sing along to. Just to name a few, Katy Perry’s Firework, Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, and Paul Anka’s My Way. But, my personal favorite may have to be Taron Egerton’s rendition of Sam Smith’s Stay With Me. Who knew the “Kingsmen” star had such an amazing voice?
 
It’s hard to say if “Sing” will make the cut come nomination time for the award season. The film has some tough competition with “Zootopia”, “Kubo and the Two Strings”, and the likely front runner, “Moana”. That being said, you cannot discredit this lovable cast and the toe-tapping song choices that makes this film a fun time for the whole family.

Rating: 3/5

“Sing” opens in theaters December 20.

“Sing” Official Trailer HD

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Movie Review: “The Secret Life of Pets” is a Delightful Treat, But Not Enough Meat

How do our pets act when we’re not around? It’s a question we’re so curious about when we see dogs whimper as we walk out the door. When we see cats comfortably relaxing, and they seem like they could care less as we walk by them. Well, Illumination Entertainment’s newest film, “The Secret Life of Pets” tells us just that. From a cat who raids the fridge, to a dog who loves head-banging to rock music, these are just a few things we get to discover about the daily lives of pets in this film.

The story follows a terrier named Max (Louis C.K.) who has a great relationship with his owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper). And every day when she leaves for work, he anxiously awaits her return. Usually, he kills the time by having some his friends/other pets over to hang out. But his life is turned upside down, when Katie returns home one day with a new dog she got from the pound, Duke (Eric Stonestreet). Max instantly dislikes him, and the two can’t seem to get along. The following day during their group dog walk a fight ensues which results in them getting parted from their dog walker, and leaves them struggling to find their way home.

If this plot sounds somewhat familiar, try replacing the pets with toys. Yes, the premise of the film is essentially the same as “Toy Story”. Unfortunately, “The Secret Life of Pets” just doesn’t properly execute the same heartfelt message.

Don’t get me wrong, “The Secret Life of Pets” is still an enjoyable film and will thoroughly entertain kids. Especially through the biggest standouts of the movie Snowball (Kevin Hart) and Gidget (Jenny Slate), who provide the biggest laughs. Listening to Kevin Hart’s voice on a tiny, cute, little bunny who loathes humans is an ironic and hilarious combination.

I only wish that the film focused a little more on the things that pets do when their owners are gone and when they return home. They graze over the cliché actions we’d expect, but it is quickly over shadowed by a journey of trying to get Max and Duke home.

“The Secret Life of Pets” is absolutely worth the watch, but if you have already seen “Zootopia” or “Finding Dory”, don’t expect this film to come close in comparison. The entertainment value is there, but it lacks the heart and depth that we usually hope for from these family animated movies.

Rating 3/5

“The Secret Life of Pets” hits theaters July 8.

“The Secret Life of Pets” Trailer HD