Having clocked up a staggering $2.6 billion across three movies thus far, the elastically animated, endlessly merchandisable Despicable Me franchise is the surprise runaway success story of current times. (It even has its own Universal Studios theme park ride.) Last year’s prequel Minions, which empowers the saga’s dungareed yellow drones with their first feature-length spin-off (after ten shorts) is the most profitable of all — maybe by dint of the international marketability of their gobbledygook language. Amid all this money-making, the 2010 original feels rather homely: the simple tale of insecure, Uncle Fester-like supervillain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) who steals a shrink ray from a rival (Jason Segel) in order to kidnap the moon and ends up adopting three human orphans. Through them, he learns to be a parent. It ought to be an awkward mash-up of colourful slapstick and forced homily, but it works, and it’s actually rather moving. The Minions bring inventive mayhem, too. Despicable Me 3 arrives next year.
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