Although it's in danger of being outshone by the offshoot Minions franchise to which it gave life, the Despicable Me series justifies its continued existence with this third entry, an amusing exercise in sustained silliness that is guaranteed to force a smile upon even the sourest of pusses.
When we rejoin the lives of reformed super villain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) and his beloved Lucy (Kristen Wiig), they are attempting to bring down an 80s child star turned grown-up bad guy named Balthazar Bratt, voiced with peevish glee by South Park creator/star Trey Parker.
With Bratt plotting world domination, Gru is then confronted by an even bigger challenge: the revelation that he has a twin brother named Dru, also voiced by Carell.
Both new characters bring a lot to the film - Bratt allows the film-makers to riff nostalgically and musically on 80s pop culture, an opportunity they embrace with creative abandon. And Dru provides a conflict-generating counterpoint to Gru, resulting in a dynamic that proves very fruitful, comedically-speaking.
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The proceedings are also buoyed by such franchise mainstays as the endearing sweetness of Gru's relationship with his three adopted daughters and the mildly European aesthetic that helps distinguish these films from their peers.
Which brings us to the divisive pop culture kingpins known as the Minions. Although they have ever-so-slightly less of a presence here than usual, the marble-mouthed mischief-makers still manage to provide the majority of the film's biggest laughs, especially during a gut-busting prison sequence set to Pharrell Williams' hit song Freedom.
To resist the charms of these sentient oversized Tic Tacs is to resist the inherent absurdity of life itself. Go with the yellow flow.
Cast: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker
Director: Pierre Coffin
Rating: PG (Violence)
Running time: 90 mins
Verdict: Silly fun from one of the better animation franchises.