I usually give Illumination credit for directing their voice actors that never sound recognizable or putting on a familiar voice out of these animated films. This is not the case with Trey Parker, a man who never thought himself to be a great voice actor on his animated series South Park; just a necessary one. Parker’s voice is instantly recognizable and made all the more apparent as his character is supposed to be a master of disguise. Even in animation, you can tell when the evil Bratt will rip off his disguise, as in one scene where he plays a tubby diamond inspector, putting on a voice that bears hints of Eric Cartman.
Most animated movies come with a little short attached to them, but Despicable Me 3 instead features a Comcast commercial where Gru distracts the minions with music and television shows offered through the cable service. It becomes all the more apparent with this introduction that this series is more of a product than a story, built more for easy laughs and pushing merchandise. With all the popularity and money this franchise will generate, it is such a shame that the writers and directors didn’t bother to conceive a script with a soul, characters with dimension or gags with originality. This might be the most meta of 1980s nostalgic references, echoing how animation of that era came more in the form of shameless commercials.
I feel sorry for the adults that will be dragged into this picture for the kids, expecting something pleasantly silly and only being thrown a nostalgic bone of 1980s references. I would say that kids would still adore this picture, but when the only big laugh I heard out of them came from a fart joke in the opening titles for Illumination, even they will grow tired with humor that piques before the movie even starts. Considering I counted more laughs with the child audience at Captain Underpants, a movie with more farts and personality, the Despicable Me franchise needs to step up its game lest they become more coldly corporate than charmingly cute.