Cert U 90mins Stars 3

Funny man Steve Carell returns as the voice of despicable villain turned secret agent Gru, and gets into the groove of this bubble gum coloured animated sequel which has a heavy 1980’s influence.

It’s a typically fast paced affair but the madcap charm and invention of earlier episodes is diluted by a jaundiced pandering to parents, a piecemeal plot and a tendency to soap opera.

Plus the real stars have always been the little yellow minions, and would be better off continuing their own spin-off series. They have great moments but are unwisely elbowed aside in favour of a couple of new, less funny characters.

Gru and his family head off to the European backwater of Freedonia, where his long lost brother Dru, lives.

Meanwhile back in the US Balthazar Bratt is a mullet wearing, break dancing, super villain.

He was a 1980s child TV star who wants revenge on Hollywood for cancelling his show. His lair is littered with Rubik cubes and suchlike, while famous songs of the decade from Madonna and so on are crowbarred onto the soundtrack.

This is all a disappointingly cynical attempt to keep the parents and grandparents in the audience happy, while the comic violence entertains the kids. The minions fart jokes are far funnier than the warmed over nostalgia intended to keep me occupied.

With new characters added with every film, the script has a lot of juggling to do to keep everyone occupied, and it feels as if we’re watching a couple of different scripts less than seamlessly stitched together.

I was bored by the scenes where Gru worries about his job and his new wife frets about bonding with their three daughters.

With the Illumination studio developing new films such as mega hit movie Sing, this feels more a stale contractual obligation than a labour of love. And it’s as not as despicably great as previous films.

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