TATM: Talkin’ About The Movies #271: Despicable Me 3 & Baby Driver

DESPICABLE ME 3

***

Synopsis:

After he is fired from the Anti-Villain League for failing to take down the latest bad guy to threaten humanity, Gru finds himself in the midst of a major identity crisis. But when a mysterious stranger shows up to inform Gru that he has a long-lost twin brother-a brother who desperately wishes to follow in his twin’s despicable footsteps-one former super-villain will rediscover just how good it feels to be bad.

Review:

As I’ve talked about in the past, I am not the biggest fan of the Despicable Me franchise. I thought the first movie was just meh, the second one was better but also kind of meh. The only movie from this franchise that I actually did like was, of all things, its’ spinoff film, Minions. So, I was not going into this movie with a whole lot of good hope for it seeing as I wasn’t a fan of the other movies.

So, much to my surprise, I actually did find myself enjoying this movie a lot more than I did the other two movies. Is it a great movie? Not really but I actually did get more enjoyment out of it than I felt I was going to looking at some of the stuff I saw earlier in the marketing stages for this.

I think of all the Despicable Me movies, this one has the best looking animation of the bunch, that’s the one thing you can give Illumination a lot of credit for, their animation department has gotten better and better with every film they’ve done, I love how in this one they manage to combine the CG animation with live-action elements like there’s a scene where a robot model of the bad guy is used and it looks like a toy model but inside you can see a CG face, I thought that was kind of a cool element they bring into this movie, the ability to play around with different styles of animation in one scene.

Speaking of the villain, let’s talk about Trey Parker as Balthazar Bratt, a.k.a Evil Bratt, now I was afraid they were not going to use him well as a bad guy but I will say that Trey Parker has a lot of the funnier moments in the film, I actually want to see a spinoff movie with him, I think there’s so much you can do with this character in his own film and honestly, it would not be the craziest idea to turn into a spinoff.

Also one of the biggest surprises for me in this, the minions were actually kind of funny in this. I know that a lot of people found them too annoying or distracting and there were definitely points in this movie where they were graining on my nerves. But I will say, the prison subplot in this with the Minions, that was actually really funny because I just love how the Minions instantaneously just take over the prison and just watching the convicts scared shitless, it leads to a lot of funny moments all through this sequence.

I’ll also give the movie credit for not going for too many cliché scenarios like you don’t have the big liar revealed sequence that takes up 20 minutes of the film’s run time. When they do the clichés, they are usually really quick with them so it’s not too much of a distraction.

But that does lead to my problems with the movie.

For one thing, there are noticeable dull moments where nothing of interest is happening and more importantly, the laughs become so scarce and so split out that you really don’t get that many humorous moments in this except for the previously mentioned scenes.

Another thing that bothered me was the obvious pop culture references, not the 80s stuff that was to be expected but for some reason, this movie throws in topical references that will date this movie decades from now. Most notably, Bratt using an obvious Donald Trump-esque costume to steal the diamond again and the new head of the Anti-Villain League is a deadringer for Kellyanne Conway. It’s like, why are you throwing these references in here? Do you really want people to remember the time we actually had Donald Trump as a president? Once he leaves office, we want to forget that this even happened. But no, this movie will make the joke now despite the fact that in 10 years, nobody will even remember that we had this buffoonery happen.

The biggest problem the movie has to it is that there’s not a concrete storyline, in fact, there’s not even a real story here, there’s just subplots and this franchise is not at that point where they are that desperate for storylines that could be interesting. If Pixar can take more than a decade to create new stories for their franchises after the last movie, then why can’t you do the same with Despicable Me? Hell, at the end, they even tease a new dynamic that actually could be kind of fun with the addition of the character of Dru.

The obvious comparison I could make for Despicable Me 3 is Shrek The Third, where you essentially just had subplots and a storyline so lazy they had to rehash the same villain from the last movie again and was essentially just a cashgrab, Despicable Me 3 definitely does feel like a cashgrab. At the same time, it does have those brief moments of enjoyment that make it better than Shrek The Third.

As I said, I’ve never been a big fan of this franchise so while I do really like the third one more than the other two, it’s not something that’s going to change my view of the franchise, I will say that it’s a good movie but not a great movie. Fans of the franchise will definitely get their money’s worth but honestly, this is not one that I’m going to remember as one of the summer’s best movies, it’s fine for what it is, enjoy it for what it is, but don’t expect anything great out of this one.

BABY DRIVER

****

Synopsis:

After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

Review:

Edgar Wright has been one of the top directors of the last decade, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, The World’s End, he’s been on a roll and let’s not forget Shaun Of The Dead from 2004, he’s been one of the most consistent directors of recent memory.

So, where does Baby Driver hold up at? It’s really good….but it’s also the weakest Edgar Wright movie he’s directed.

Why don’t I start with the negative things to say about this movie first.

For starters, everybody saying that this is one of the most original movies we’ve seen in a while….settle down on that claim here. While there is a lot of originality in this movie, this is not one of the most original movies we’ve had in a while. A lot of this has been done before in numerous other movies of this type before, in the heist movie genre.

Also, I don’t think Baby was an overall well-written character, he really doesn’t have much of a personality to him and I know that he’s suppose to be a shy but well meaning person but still would help to get some more character out of him.

I also thought that the overall script wasn’t as strong as what to expect from Wright, there were too many of those moments you could kind of see coming and I thought that the ending dragged on way too long. There were so many points where they could’ve just ended the movie and leave it open for a sequel but they just kept going and going. Not to mention, one character’s multiple fakeout death scenes, it’s like “really? How many times is this dude gonna fake his own death before we finally kill him off?” It gets past the point of being threatening to being annoying, it’s like “just end it already.”

On the positive side, the casting is really good. Ansel Elgort does a very good job in the role of Baby, his acting makes the character likeable. Lily James is a knockout beauty in this, I loved her in Cinderella and in this, I loved her just as muc as Debora and she and Elgort had really good chemistry working off each other. Kevin Spacey is great as Doc, Jon Hamm has a really good role in this as does Jamie Foxx, who has a lot of the film’s funniest moments in here. I will say that both Jon Berenthal and Eiza González are both kind of underused in this, especially Berenthal who only shows up in the first 15 minutes of the movie and then is just gone and Gonzalez was trying to come off as this badass but she really doesn’t.

The way the movie uses the soundtrack is excellent, it’s the centerpiece of what holds the movie together and I love how the music ties in to the action scenes right down to where the bullets match to the music, I like little touches like that and to me, that is where a lot of the true originality of the movie comes into play.

Overall, I still really enjoyed Baby Driver, it’s very funny, it’s very well acted, looks impressive, has a great music soundtrack and a unique approach to how it’s presented and honestly, I will take this over a string of really bad R rated comedies we’ve gotten over the last year anyday. This is definitely a movie that’s not only one of the best of the summer but one of the best of the year so far.

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Posted in TATM: Talkin' About The Movies

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