Film Review #2 “Despicable Me 3”

Directed by: Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda
Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker
Distributed by Universal Pictures[2]
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 90 minutes

Mike G’s Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Illumination Entertainment really has a gold mine here with the “Despicable Me” franchise. It literally just prints its own money…but so far after three films and an even better spin-off, they are still great. Pixar’s movies cost near or above $200 million per film and don’t get me wrong they are good, at least they used to be, while Illumination knocks out films like this and “The Secret Lives of Pets” for just $80 million. These are quality films that are very entertaining, pack great voice casts and overall great movies. “Despicable Me 3” is a great addition to the series and is a step up from the second film.

Official Premise: The mischievous Minions hope that Gru will return to a life of crime after the new boss of the Anti-Villain League fires him. Instead, Gru decides to remain retired and travel to Freedonia to meet his long-lost twin brother for the first time. The reunited siblings soon find themselves in an uneasy alliance to take down the elusive Balthazar Bratt, a former 1980s child star who seeks revenge against the world.

Pharrell Williams steps up again and some great new songs for this film. I don’t think he replicated another “Happy” on this soundtrack but very fun music. In addition the film has a flood of 80’s theme of music that is very fun in this film ranging from a-ha to Madonna to Michael Jackson. Trey Parker, co-creator of “South Park” is a new addition to this cast and voices the role of villain Balthazar Bratt, a former child star who’s grown up to become obsessed with the character he played in the 80’s, Evil Bratt. Trey knocks it out of the park and steals the movie, no question. Also we get to meet Gru’s twin brother, Dru and he is another great addition to this sequel.

What I love most about this film is that it is has a nice balance. A nice balance of Gru, Lucy and the girls as well as the a fun backstory for Bratt and of course we get a good amount of those lovable Minions. If Illumination is reading, I am ready for a “Minions 2” BTW for sure next. Just love those guys (or whatever they are). I saw this with my five year old daughter and she simply had a blast. She was laughing throughout and even though some of the 80’s theme was obviously lost on her she enjoyed the balance of the characters and just had a great time watching this film. I really hope that Illumination continues down this trend and continues to deliver great animated films for the whole family!

Heitor Pereira talks about scoring “Despicable Me 2” and 2015’s “Minions”

Heitor Pereira is a musician who has worked with bands like Simply Red, Elton John, Jack Johnson. He is also a composer who has worked on films like the “Despicable Me” series and and “The Smurfs series”. He is also gearing up to compose the upcoming “Despicable Me” spin-off “Minions”m which is due out in 2015. Media Mikes had the pleasure to chat with Heitor about his work on the “Despicable Me” series and his work with kid/family films.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you approach the score to “Despicable Me 2” and how did it differ if any from working on the first film?
Heitor Pereira: With the first one there was a lot of time spent looking for the right tone and themes. I was also trying to find my way of incorporating some of Pharrell’s material into the score. It worked to a point but I still had to find the right themes for the Minions, the bag guys etc. I got to work together with Pharrell quite a bit on the first film and I would say that there was a lot of influence from him in my score actually. In the second film, for scheduling reasons and other things the job was more divided. He wrote the songs and I completely wrote the score. My goals were to find out how to take advantage of Pharrell’s great energy in the score. The new one was all about discovering the melodies that would go hand and hand with the old melodies for the Gru and the girls. Additional I had to find the tones for Lucy, the purple Minions, El Macho and his three different incarnations. The process I focused on was to try and keep the original themes of the main characters and still at the same time create new music.

MG: Sticking with this franchise, tell us about what we can expect from “Minions” next and how do you plan to approach?”
HP: Coincidentially, I just had a meeting with the directors and it is a completely different project. I won’t say much because the fun is actually the surprise. I also can’t say much about the score because I haven’t written a note yet [laughs]. I saw parts of the movie since it is not yet finished and I know that it is so different and it is definitely going to generate different music, which makes it more fun for me. So I am very excited about getting started.

MG: Besides the “Despicable Me” series, you’ve worked with tons of other kid/family films; what draws you to this genre?
HP: Look, I ask that same question to myself. I am be very dark also [laughs]. It seems like people prefer me smiling [laughs]. I could tell you that soon this will turn around and I will show how bad I am [laughs] but this is a profession and I am sure it will come around. What is nice is that I am a family man myself, I have two kids and I love making this type of music. It is a part of my life right now and I am not neglecting it, I am living it and enjoying the opportunities to the full. I am telling you though that orchestrally it is actually much more demanding than live-action. In terms of composition, because it is animation, the picture changes a few times a week. So that means that the music also changes very frequently. So it is a very challenging world but I love it.

MG: What else is in the cards for 2014?
HP: It’s funny because IMDB lists me as composing “Alvin and the Chipmunks 4″…but I am not unless someone hasn’t told me yet [laughs]. But I am actually have a film called “If I Stay”, which is directed by R.J. Cutler who does TV’s “Nashville”. It is not for little people at all. It is with Chloë Grace Moretz. It is a beautiful movie and very sad but perfect for me. Things are mixing up a little bit, so I am very lucky.

Film Review “Despicable Me 2”

Starring the voices of: Steve Carell, Russell Brand and Kristen Wiig
Directed by: Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud
Rated: PG
Running time: 1 hr 38 mins
Universal

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I have so many great memories of “Despicable Me” that I was almost frightened to see the sequel, which, in a lot of instances, are not as good as the original. Happily I had nothing to worry about!

Now “retired” and raising his new family, adopted daughters Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and the always adorable Agnes (Elsie Fisher), the once evil Gru (Carell) is recruited by Lucy (Wiig) an agent from the Anti Villain League, to help defeat a new bad guy, voiced well by Benjamin Bratt, subbing for Al Pacino who left the project a few months ago. Aiding Gru in his new mission are the lovable Minions (Kevin, Bob, Stuart), whose constant good humor and quirky language would put a smile on even the most miserable person’s face. The Minions are truly one of the greatest creations in animation history. That Gru can tell one apart from the other only makes them that much more fun! There are also a group of feral Minions, a purple toned band of misfits as equally entertaining as their counterparts.

Like its predecessor, “Despicable Me 2” is full of little bits for both the kids and adults. Think of it as a modern take on the old “Rocky and Bullwinkle” show, which was known for its blend of humor that entertained all ages. The voice cast is perfect, with Carell leading the way with his somewhere-from Europe accent and Uncle Fester appearance. Wiig gives Lucy a sweet quality that jumps off the screen. And good for Benjamin Bratt, for delivering a complete performance and doing it in only a matter of months. I have no idea why Pacino walked but he missed out on being part of a very special film.

The production values are outstanding, with the animation literally jumping off the film. THIS is what 3D should be. In fact, the 3D that accompanies the end credits is better than all of the 3D I’ve seen in other films this summer put together.

A joyful delight for the whole family, to not see this film could very well be considered Despicable!