What the **** did I just watch?
I’m sorry, Captain America. You’re right. That was uncalled for. But… I’ve got to be honest with myself. That was my first thought upon finishing watching the Despicable Me 3 (2017) trailer.
There’s a lot of bad, and some good, in this trailer.
First, the good:
1. I like that Trey Parker, one of the creators of South Park, is voicing a character in an animated kids film. I think it’s a nice change of pace for him.
I like Trey Parker voicing a Despicable Me villain the same way that I like Zack Snyder, the director of 300 (2006)…
…directing Legend of the Guardians (2010):
It’s nice to see a creator of adult content putting their skills to use for a younger audience.
2. I like Balthazar’s bubblegum weapon.
I didn’t expect it. Or expect it to do what it did:
Now, the bad:
1. They said “God.” (0:00 — 0:05)
Why is this a big deal? After all, people use “God” as a swear word all the time. I don’t think that’s good, but it’s not something I’m unable to handle, either. I accept it: I don’t cover my ears and go “La la la la! This isn’t happening!”
The reason this is a big deal to me is because of how animated films have approached saying “God” in the past. Two examples:
- Disney won’t allow it.
- In Sing (2016), Illumination Entertainment’s newest film — the company that is making Despicable Me 3 — a song’s lyric is changed from “God” to “Gosh”:
4:00 — 4:07:
(Granted: I don’t know the song they’re singing — I wasn’t able to find it — so the lyric could be un-changed. But, I’m guessing it’s not.)
The taboo of saying “God” in an animated kids film, it seems, is finally broken.
The man’s song also seems to glorify drinking. Good message you’re sending to kids, Illumination.
2. Where are the girls?
Gru’s girls are my favorite part of the Despicable Me series. Their relationship with Gru is what gives the series its heart.
None of their voice actresses’ names are shown, unlike the names of the actors who voice Gru, Lucy, and Balthazar. They’re mentioned once in the trailer, but they’re not seen at all. It would like if Pixar made a Finding Dory (2016) sequel that had only Marlin and Dory in it — no Nemo.
I know this is just the first trailer, and I haven’t even seen the film yet, so I don’t know what their presence in Despicable Me 3 will consist of. Still: It’s not a good sign that, with my first look at the film, they’re nowhere.
3. The Minions are back.
I don’t hate the Minions. But, I do feel they’ve overstayed their welcome.
Plus: It’s established in Minions (2015) that Minions only follow the most evil being. But, Gru isn’t evil anymore. He has a wife and kids and he’s working for the good guys: The Anti-Villain League. So: Why are the Minions still with him?
I know why:
4. The animation.
I was going to say the animation was a good aspect of this trailer. Despicable Me 3 looks beautiful.
But, when I saw the kind of story that that animation is in the service of…
…I was reminded of a proverb:
Don’t cast your pearls before swine.
5. What did they do to Gru?
Illumination has stripped Gru of his dignity.
How am I supposed to see this father/husbnd/reformed villain as anything more than a walking punchline after I see him dangling, naked, in front of an office window, covered in chewed gum?
This, for me, is the moment where the Despicable Me series jumped the shark.*
I was excited for this film.
But now I’m not.
On the bright side:
The Despicable Me 3 trailer wasn’t the only trailer to come out today:
*Jump the shark: (in a television series or movie) reach a point at which far-fetched events are included merely for the sake of novelty, indicative of a decline in quality.