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Interview: ‘Despicable Me 3’ screenwriters Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio

Four years after his last big screen adventure, the former supervillain-turned-agent of good Gru is back with “Despicable Me 3,” the latest animated family comedy from acclaimed screenwriters Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio.

Together with Illumination Entertainment founder Chris Meledandri, the trio became a force to be reckoned with right out of the gate in 2010 with Illumination’s first film “Despicable Me.” The blockbuster hit told the unique story of how the adoption of three orphaned sisters softened the heart of the world’s most devious supervillain, Gru (voiced by Steve Carell). The success of the first film, of course, to the 2013 smash “Despicable Me 2,” where the Gru meets the love of his life with Lucy (voice of Kristen Wiig), an Anti-Villain League super-agent.

“We ultimately landed on the fact that these movies are ultimately about family,” Paul, along with Daurio, said in a phone conversation this week from Los Angeles. “Although I don’t think we’ll be ever able to touch the emotion of that first movie, because there’s something special about Gru becoming a dad and the girls changing his life. We feel like each movie we’re going to expand the family, and deal with the challenges of things like sibling rivalry, or in this film, Lucy becoming a stepmom. She’s so accomplished as an agent, but feeling so insecure about being a mom now.”

New in theaters Friday, “Despicable Me 3” finds Gru and Lucy in a quandary after they’re both fired by the AVL after failing to apprehend the notorious former ’80s child star-turned-supervillain Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) after he pulls off an elaborate heist. Out of work and going broke, Gru’s fortunes change when finds out he has a long, lost brother named Dru (also voiced by Carell), a very rich and successful pig farmer. Gru soon discovers, though, that Dru amassed his riches thanks to their dad, who, as it turns out was the world’s greatest supervillain in this time — and Dru wants his brother to get back into the game.

Paul and Daurio said the “Despicable Me” film series was never planned as a trilogy or even a franchise. In fact, their goal was just to get the first film made.

“We were hoping, ‘Maybe they’ll let us make another movie’ — not necessarily a sequel, but we were just hoping the company would get going and we would be on our way making films, never thinking this would become a franchise,” Daurio said. “We just thought, ‘This is this really a fantastic story about three little girls and this supervillain, and how they changed each other’s lives,’ and thought was going to end there.”

But once they were approached by Universal to create the first sequel, they realized that the first film had a theme that they could build upon in a meaningful way.

“When we met with Chris Meledandri about it, we realized, ‘Ah! Gru needs love.’ He found one kind of love by becoming a dad and now he needs another kind of love, so we found him romance with Lucy in the second film,” Paul said. “That was the same process with this third movie. While he has kids and while he has a wife, maybe there’s another kind of love that he hasn’t experienced yet, which would be sibling love — brotherly love.”

“Once the door opened to a sequel, everything became a possibility,” Daurio added. “Now it’s a lot easier for us to think of sequel ideas because we’ve seen how big the family can get and the opportunities we have for exploring the family dynamic.”

Universal Pictures

Also included in the “Despicable Me” family are Gru’s Minons, who, of course, got their own prequel movie last year. Like the possibilities with Gru’s story, Paul and Daurio said the opportunities for new and exciting Minion storylines are endless.

“One of the first ideas for this movie was that the Minions should go to prison. We thought that would be really fun,” Paul said with a laugh. “As writers, we just wanted to lock the Minions up for a little while. We just thought the Minions would play great in jail. That sequence is so much fun.”

While Paul and Daurio originally conceptualized the Minons on the page, they say the characters truly took shape, quite literally, under the auspices of director Pierre Coffin. The filmmaker, who has directed all three “Despicable Me” films and “Minions,” not only came up with the design of the yellow, pill-shaped henchmen, he also does all the voices for them.

Paul and Daurio said that for “Despicable Me 3,” Coffin was also pivotal in the shaping of the scene where the Minions inadvertently land in the middle of a singing competition, putting their unique brand of gibberish to work as only the characters can.

“That was an idea that Pierre came in with early in the process of making the film,” Daurio recalled. “He said, ‘I have this idea for a Minions scene and I can’t explain it to you, so I’m going to just show it to you’ — and he played us the Gilbert and Sullivan song you see performed in the film.”

Movie review: ‘Despicable Me 3’

“Despicable Me 3” (PG)

The evil genius-turned-anti-villain agent Gru is back with “Despicable Me 3,” an amusing sequel that despite its efforts, doesn’t quite live up to its predecessors.

This time around, Gru (voice of Steve Carell) and his super-spy wife, Lucy (Kristen Wiig), are tasked to catch a former ’80s child star-turned-super villain Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) — but when their efforts fall short, they’re fired from the Anti-Villain League.

Gru’s fortunes’ change, however, when a mysterious figure shows up at his house to tell him that he has a long lost brother named Dru (Carell again), a rich pig farmer who reveals to Gru that their father was also a super villain, and he wants his brother to get back into the business of evil villainy.

Hear Tim’s review of “Despicable Me 3” with Tom Barnard on KQRS.

While “Despicable Me 3” is loaded with laughs, the film feels like it doesn’t quite have the heart of the original. The element of the first “Despicable Me” that made it so grand was it’s unexpected emotional quality, where Gru took in three orphaned sisters wanting a new home. The whole family is back for “Despicable Me 3” and while they’re dealing with new, relatable issues, the narrative simply feels like it’s missing something.

If you’re hoping for more Minion madness with “Despicable Me 3” you’ll definitely get it, even though they don’t get nearly as much screen time as they did in their own prequel movie last year. The characters make the most out of every second they’re on screen, though, especially in the film’s laugh-out-loud hilarious scenes where the whole gaggle of Gru’s yellow, pill-shaped henchmen are rounded up and sent to prison, striped outfits and all.

Lammometer: 7 (out of 10)

Watch Tim’s review of “Despicable Me 3” with Adrienne Broadus on KARE 11.

Movie reviews: ‘Sausage Party,’ ‘Hell or High Water’ on KQRS

Sausage Party Wiig, Rogen, Norton, KrumholzFollow @TimLammersFilms on Twitter

Tim Lammers reviews the Seth Rogen and Kristen Wiig R-rated comedy “Sausage Party,” and the Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster crime thriller “Hell or High Water” on “The KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard and the crew. Hear the segment starting 14 minutes in.

Tim Burton Book 2
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Movie review: New ‘Ghostbusters’ doesn’t answer call

Sony Pictures

By Tim Lammers

“Ghostbusters” (PG-13) 1 1/2 stars (out of four)

Don’t bother calling … the new “Ghostbusters” is a mere specter of its former self. Dull and uninspired, the reboot of the 1984 smash no doubt boasts a talented cast and director in Paul Feig – yet it feels like they are all operating under some strict studio mandate and following marching orders to avoid doing anything risky that will taint the “Ghostbusters” brand.

Despite a new story and characters, the new “Ghostbusters” ultimately feels like a rehash of the original, where a ragtag group of scientists (Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon) and a street savvy New York City transit worker (Leslie Jones) try to rid the Big Apple of some very nasty spirits and the evil human force who’s unleashing them.

The biggest problem with “Ghostbusters is that it’s a PG-13 film that’s preventing the hilarious R-rated comedy team of Feig, McCarthy and Wiig (who first did “Bridesmaids” together) from doing what they do best.

Had Feig (who also directed McCarthy in “The Heat” and “Spy”) been allowed to turn loose his performers in the territory they know best – bawdy, R-rated comedy – the film would have been infinitely better.

Apart from some obviously improved visual effects, the new “Ghostbusters” is a tremendous disappointment considering the level of talent involved.

Not even cameos from most of the original cast can juice up the newfangled proton pack: Bill Murray is given the most to do although his two scenes are brief, while Dan Aykroyd’s appearance is short, silly and of no consequence.

On the other hand, the turns by Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver (in the end credits) are welcome, and even the late, great Harold Ramis is represented in the form of a golden bust in a blink or you’ll miss it scene at the very beginning of the film.

Rick Moranis, who dropped largely from the public eye for the last 20 years, declined a cameo, and perhaps smartly so. Some franchises are better left untouched.

Hear Tim’s review of “Ghostbusters” and more above with Tom Barnard and the “KQ92 Morning Show,” beginning at 7:30 in.

Tim Burton Book 2
Click book cover for info on how to buy!