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Minions are the only saving grace of ‘Despicable Me 3”

Without the Minions, “Despicable Me 3” would be mostly forgettable.
Without the Minions, “Despicable Me 3” would be mostly forgettable. The Associated Press

It’s Minions to the rescue in “Despicable Me 3.”

Whenever the picture from the Illumination animation studio sags into scenes of frantic yelling, which is often, it’s up to the little yellow, Twinkie-shaped mischief makers to show up and bring the funny.

And there is no segment funnier than the one where they launch into a rousing opera chorus that, sung in signature Minion gibberish, is sublime in its silliness. Its giddy choreography and delirious finale, complete with skyrocketing streamers of bright pink toilet paper, is flat-out hilarious.

That scene and others, such as one showing the Minions ruling the roost in a maximum security prison, causing the other inmates to cower and flee their intimidating massed Minioness, with their finger-popping ”West Side Story”-inspired strutting,are compact and inventive. They’re a welcome respite from the rest of the movie, which even at a relatively short 90 minutes,feels bloated and excessively manic.

The frantic villain, Balthazat Bratt, a resentful former TV child star (voiced by Trey Parker) who never got over the cancellation of his show in the ‘80s when he hit puberty, causes retired master thief and Minion meister Gru (Steve Carell) no end of grief as they battle for possession of a priceless purple diamond.

At least as hysterical is Dru (also Carell), the twin brother Gru never knew he had.

Clad in bright white (compared to Gru’s gloomy grays), Dru is everything the bald Gru is not: insufferably cheery, fabulously wealthy and blessed with a full head of wavy blond hair. However, he envies Gru’s bad-guy reputation and wants the two of them to team up as master villains. Gru, now a responsible, married, family man with three adopted young kids, resists at first but later gives in to temptation.

A scream-filled high-speed car chase, a shrieking assault on Bratt’s fortress-like hideout and a screechy final battle that practically levels Hollywood ensue.

Gru’s wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig) is on hand to try to keep her hubby on the straight and narrow and be a good, caring mom to her adopted brood.

Unlike Pixar’s pictures, with multiple layers of meaning that make them appealing to adults and kids, there’s not much below the surface in “Despicable Me 3.” It’s a standard kiddie cartoon: noisy, colorful and forgettable.

Despicable Me 3

stars out of 5

Cast: Features the voices of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel and Trey Parker

Directors: Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda and Eric Guillon.

Running time: 1:30

Rated: PG for action and rude humor.

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