Hollywood Dads And A Despicable Me 3 Review

So often in media today, we see on television and movies a litany of ridiculous dads.  You know what I mean when I say that.  The fumbling, bumbling dad who sits in front of the TV all day and proclaims things about the world that are absolutely ridiculous.  He proclaims loudly that people are idiots.  He wants to lock his daughters in convents until they are 96.  And sometimes he has something profound to say, only to take it back a minute later.  Eventually, the mom comes in and sets him straight.  He has to be disabused of his overprotective, overbearing, small-minded belief system in some semi-embarrassing way.  And it all has to be done with a wink and a nod towards the audience as if they have been let in on some little secret about this silly dad.

Part of me feels like this has been done because Hollywood is made up of a bunch of stars from single parent or divorced parent households where the mother is the primary caregiver.  And I will tell you now single moms are awesome.  Furthermore, I will defend the belief to the death.  (Unless your mother is a White Walker or Cersei Lannister and then you are on your own.)  But many of these mothers barely have enough time to be mothers, let alone fathers to their children.  And they hope they have good male role models for their kids.  But often times they do not.

The Hollywood scions then have no concept of dad or what a good dad looks like.  So these screenwriters and actors collaborate to portray these male household figures as something buffoonish.  Because if they portrayed them as they know their own fathers to be it would only make for tragedy.

So they go the safer route.  They make fun of these male creatures of which they have no concept.  They revel in their silliness.  And dads become a punchline.  Unfortunately, this invective permeates its way into society through the culture.  And girls start to treat boys as if they are something less.  Boys start to feel lost because they don’t have good men they can model themselves after.  Ultimately, this feeds into all sorts of other issues I won’t spend time on with this post.  Although certainly, I have an opinion about them.

So I was pleasantly surprised in the summer of 2010 when I found a movie showing a dad who had a lot more going for him than controlling the remote control to the TV set, even if it was only a cartoon.  Despicable Me gave us Gru, and he was a badass.  I admit, thinking of Gru, the super villain who frequently created his own messes as a good dad is strange.  I do not think that we should encourage our boys to go out and shrink the moon.  Yes, Gru is a villain of sorts.  But Gru was so much more than that.

Gru, through intelligence and cunning, created amazing devices, generated all kinds of amazing ideas, lead a whole army of minions, and accomplished his goals.  And he did all of this while learning there is nothing weak about sticking around for your family.  Not only that, he learned that he wasn’t trapped into being the kind of parent his mother was.  His parenting skills transcended her meager example.

And if that didn’t amaze me enough, they turned around and made Despicable Me 2.  In the sequel, Gru’s characterization grew even richer.  Gru was and is an amazing father.  But he is also a human being with needs, wants, and desires.  And when he finds someone who sees him as amazing, he pursues her, no matter how ridiculous he may look in the process.  In addition, he discovers that he doesn’t have to be bad in order to have fun.  And that if he wants good people in his life he may need to tame some of his super villain ways in order to be the kind of father, and eventually husband that he needs to be.  Gru grows as a person throughout the series.

So when Despicable Me 3 came along, I eagerly anticipated the next edition of the life and times of Gru, supervillain.  But then I saw the trailer and became a little nervous.  Gru told his minions that he would be going back to villainy, followed by a good amount of applause for doing so.  Would Gru be going back to villainy?  How would this affect his relationship with his wife?  And how would his children respond to this?  And all of this was in response to . . . Dru . . . his brother.  I certainly had a lot of questions going in.  Would Gru continue to be the good dad that he had set out to be?  Or would we be finding him descending into stereotypical Hollywood daddom?  (Trademark pending . . . not really.)  Only watching the movie could I find out.

 


Despicable Me 3 Review

**Spoiler Alert**

When we last found Gru (Steve Carell), he jumped off a rocket with Lucy (Kristin Wiig) and into a whole other world of marriage. (Only after 147 dates of course)  He had finally found a woman to share his life with, along with the lives of his three adopted daughters: Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Nev Scharrel).  So things should be settling down to normal for the family, all with the exception that now Gru works with Lucy in the Anti-Villain League (AVL for short).  So essentially they are now heroes, not unlike James Bond with his super gadgets.  The pair is out to take on the roughest and toughest baddies out there.

And then they introduce us to the super-villain of this movie.  Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker of South Park Infamy) plays an eighties super-villain reject with a bad mullet, dancing to eighties pop hits, and shooting out expanding bubble gum to accomplish his misdeeds.  What we really find out is that he is a pimply faced, eighties television show reject, with some mad tech skills who decided to turn his television villain persona into a real life villain.  And as the show was set in the eighties, so his look must follow.

 

They send Gru and Lucy into action to capture the nefarious villain with the bad “do.”  By this time you can tell that the partnership between the two has grown.  They display their teamwork from the very beginning.  When Gru cannot get to the ship with Balthazar in time, as it begins to float into the air, Lucy sends him spiraling upwards so that he can confront the villain face to face.  Upon reaching the deck, we have a minor twist on a Marvel theme with an attempted 80s dance off to see who can get the jewel.  Gru ultimately wins, but Balthazar escapes in the process.

We then transition to Gru and Lucy as a couple, discussing the ins and outs of their accomplishments.  Gru fixates on not being able to capture Balthazar and being embarrassed by him in a very sticky situation.  This conversation transitions to them sitting in AVL Headquarters as they find out their old leader is stepping down and allowing someone else to take charge.  Valerie Da Vinci (Jenny Slate, also in the movie Gifted) decides that failure is not an option for the AVL.  And as Gru failed, he must be terminated.  As Lucy defends him, she finds herself out of a job as well.

Dejected, Gru and Lucy have to come home to tell the girls that they have been relieved of their duties.  This is not an easy discussion, but it’s a necessary one.  And the great thing is that Gru, being the incredible human being that he is, makes sure that he has it.  He does not shirk his responsibility.  And he does not pass the buck.  He takes responsibility himself.

As a result, the girls feel pressed into trying to help out their dad, especially Agnes.  She goes so far as to sell her big fluffy unicorn.  Which if you haven’t noticed by now, is a HUGE deal to her.  Gru knows this and tries to step in to let her know that while appreciated, he will figure things out for the family.  Not all conversations go so well, however, as the minions are tired of not living up to their true villain potential.  And many of them abandon Gru to establish their own life of crime.

At this point, fate steps in.  Gru’s long lost brother (although lost is a bit strong as he never knew about him from his “beloved” mother played by Julie Andrews) Dru informs Gru that he needs him.  Gru and family make a trek out to the land of Freedonia, where Dru and family are apparently wealthy pig farmers.  Upon arrival, Gru hopes that meeting with his long lost brother will help him discover some of his mojo.  But with his brother’s fabulous wealth, he feels less secure.

As Dru then sends the rest of the family to visit the island, he then informs Gru of his real reason for requesting the visit.  His family did not make money off of pig farming.  The real money came from being evil.  They were villains of the highest order.  Only Dru, was a failure.  Dru’s desires to recruit Gru to help him make one large heist to prove to his deceased father that failure should not be attached to his name.

What will Gru do? (No I’m not asking anyone to make the “WWGD?” T-shirts.  It would be funny but I think too many people would confuse the G for Gru with another important G word.)  Will he help his long lost brother that he doesn’t really know and possibly alienate Lucy and his daughters in the process?  Or will he disappoint his brother and denounce any connection to the family name?  Will he go after Balthazar Bratt and take down the super villain, without getting assistance from the AVL, in order to get Gru’s and Lucy’s jobs back?  And will Agnes find the long lost unicorn of the Freedonia Forest?  Only time will tell, but I will not here in this review.

**End of Spoilers**

I admit I could write more about this plot and the things I liked and didn’t like in it. But to be honest, there just wasn’t really a lot that I didn’t like.  There are some side plots that I won’t delve into but the main thing that I appreciated, despite the frequent chaos, Gru never shirked his responsibility as a father.  And he never shirked his responsibility as a husband either.  No, he did not do everything the right way.  But he did recognize this and was able to apologize.  The inability to apologize is one “dad trait” everyone can agree should fall by the wayside.  And Gru showed himself to be more of a man, and more of a father, than almost any movie dad out there.

Aside from this, there is the obligatory hilarity.  The minions have some spectacular show-stoppers.  In addition, they take a few veiled or not so veiled swipes at Disney.  (See if you can catch them.) Gru and Agnes have some incredibly touching moments.  And even Lucy reveals some vulnerability that she has buried up to this point in her relationship with the girls. They are a real family, flaws and all.  And sometimes these cartoons seem more real than their “real-life” counterparts.  Would I go out and see Despicable Me 3 again?  Absolutely!  And you should go and see it too.

Rating: 3/4 Stars


Continue The Conversation –

So what movies have you been out to see lately?  What are some movie dads that you have liked?  What are some movie dads that you felt like were badly written? And what personality traits do you think are the most important for a dad?  I value what the readers of the Guide think.  You are important to me, and a daily inspiration.

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Until next time, “No!  I said a Dart Gun! Not a . . . nevermind!!”

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life

 

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