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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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Movie Review: “The Skeleton Twins” Provides Enough Meat on the Bones of this Indie Gem

Girl Most Likely was a disappointing, failed attempt at the indie genre for Kristen Wiig.  So much so, that my standards were kept low when walking into The Skeleton Twins.  But, once again, Wiig’s unsurprising chemistry with another SNL alum creates an on-screen bond that immediately pulls you into their story.

The Skeleton Twins (directed by Craig Johnson, and written by Johnson and Mark Heyman) solely focuses on its two title characters.  Bill Hader channels his inner “Stefon” as Milo, the snarky, gay, depressed out-of-work LA actor.  He opens the film with an attempted suicide that reunites him and his twin sister Maggie (Wiig), who he hasn’t seen in 10 years.  Like her brother, Maggie is also unhappy, but hides her depression behind her marriage to a happy-go-lucky, Luke Wilson, to whom she has had trouble staying faithful.  Maggie insists Milo stay with them until she knows he is okay.  Milo agrees to come back to New York to live with Maggie for a little while.  At this point, the two of them attempt to revisit their past, try to make adjustments to their disturbed selves, and finally realize how important it is for their well-being to have each other in their lives.

What really makes the thematic material in The Skeleton Twins so grasping is that it has such an understanding on a siblings’ connection.  Throughout the film it’s referenced that the two had a rough upbringing, which has forced them to rely on one another since childhood.  Even though Maggie and Milo are miserable with their lives, their presence together is a silver lining.  The two not only share a bond, but also understand each other completely.  They make jokes, get high, and even have one of the best scenes this year, a sing-a-long to Starship’s “Nothing Gonna Stop Us Now.”

The Skeleton Twins’ grim tone throughout the film is balanced with its uplifting message of how sometimes the person in your life who completes you can make you realize why life is worth living.  There is also enough comic relief through Wiig and Hader’s hilarious, witty banter for you to continuously have a laugh.  Watching these two on-screen together is a rare treat no one should miss.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Skeleton Twins opens in select theaters September 19.