Thursday, June 29, 2017

Despicable Me 3 [2017]

MPAA (PG)  CNS/USCCB (A-II) (1 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C)  Fr. Dennis (0 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review (P. Sobczynski) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review

Despicable Me 3 [2017] (directed by Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin, codirected Eric Guillon, written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio) like the stupidly racist DM2 [2013] and unlike the 2010 original (which I had thought was brilliant) remains a difficult movie for me to feel good about.

Yes, the Minions (voiced by Pierre Coffin) remain cute. Yes, Agnes (voiced by Elsie Fisher) the youngest adoptive daughter of heart-of-gold, reformed arch-villain, vaguely-East European Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) and super-virtuous/super-ANGLO Miss Hattie (voiced by Kristen Wiig) remains adorable, BUT ... if DM2 [2013] went UTTERLY _OUT OF ITS WAY_ to racially attack Mexicans (!), the current film now GOES OUT OF ITS WAY to attack Gru's "vaguely South / East European background" ...

When Gru goes out with his family to search out his long lost twin brother Dru (voiced also by Steve Carell)... they find him on some "Greek-ish / Serbo-Croatian-like Island" where EVERYBODY seems to _raise PIGS_ (!!) and in probably the most unfortunate scene in the whole film, when a little boy from the Island seems to have fallen for Margo (the oldest of Gru's / Hattie's three adopted girls) OFFERING HER, AMONG OTHER THINGS _HIS PIG_ ... Hattie "STEPS UP" to "PROTECT" HER FROM HIM (and his utterly perplexed mother).

YES, IN THIS _ONE THING_ POPULIST RUSSIAN STRONGMAN VLADIMIR PUTIN IS _EXACTLY RIGHT_: Many Westerners (hence North Americans) seem to think that people from his country, Russia, (and _let's be honest_ from the other countries bordering his, many of whom sincerely believed that they were actually becoming OUR RESPECTED (!) FRIENDS and ALLIES...) are just ONE OR TWO GENERATIONS "FROM THE TREES."

How else to explain this film's portrayal of Gru's "homeland" as a place where people SEEM TO ONLY RAISE _PIGS_ and a local boy (and his mother) are portrayed as CATEGORICALLY UNWORTHY of somehow, again, categorically "more refined / sophisticated" Anglos ...

Yet this is an arrogance that is honestly born of ignorance as anyone who's actually been to Prague, Budapest, Moscow or even Belgrade or Athens would IMMEDIATELY recognize.  (Oh, but what about these countries' hinterlands?  Well, if one _wants to be honest_ none of these places are _categorically different_ from the hinterlands of the United States ... Alabama, Appalachia, Indiana, Kansas / Nebraska ...).

But we seem to insist on our (racial) superiority ... and more problematically, seem to insist on teaching our kids that as well.  Shame.

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