Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 11/27/20

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Miley Cyrus Plastic Hearts
Credit: Mick Rock/RCA

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

TV
-Minions Holiday Special (November 27 on NBC)

Music
-Miley Cyrus, Plastic Hearts
-Smashing Pumpkins, Cyr

Comedy
Nate – A One Man Show (December 1 on Netflix): Some reportedly wild comedy from comedian Natalie Palamides

Best 2020 Super Bowl Commercials

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CREDIT: Reeses/YouTube Screenshot

The major trend of Super Bowl LIV’s ads appeared to be Collaboration. Multiple spots promoted multiple products, what with Charlie Day asking everyone what to do about his stain and Sofia Vergara teaming up with the Old Spice guy and the Charmin bear with the clean heinie to take care of a chili spill. As for my own particular personal reactions, it felt so good to laugh again!

Before I get to the rankings, I would like to note that at the viewing party I attended, it was hard to hear the ads during the first half, but thankfully by the third quarter the acoustics were much more favorable. If any early spots looked like they deserved reconsideration, I made sure to re-watch them on YouTube.

5. Minions: The Rise of Gru, “Get Ready” – Usually I don’t include movie or TV trailers in these rankings, but this is Minions (set to “Sabotage”), so obviously I had to make an exception.

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This Is a Movie Review: ‘Despicable Me 3’ Plays to Its Strength Just Often Enough

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CREDIT: Universal and Illumination

This review was originally posted on News Cult in June 2017.

Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Pierre Coffin, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel

Directors: Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Rating: PG for Off-Color Minionese Jokes

Release Date: June 30, 2017

“I miss the Minions,” Gru laments about halfway through Despicable Me 3. Ever since the 2010 release of the first in this series, missing the Minions could only ever be relative. But when those little yellow pills are not on screen, you feel it. They may be divisive, inspiring just as much ire as they do unbridled joy, but there is good reason why they have been the breakout characters. As much as they inspire little kids (and some adults) to babble incessantly in Minionese, they are not lacking in ingenuity. Indeed, their moments in the spotlight continue to be the most imaginative, inventive, and playful in the DM-verse. When in DM3 they stumble into a live singing competition and are forced to come up on the spot with a signature babbling version of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General,” their versatile ability to think on their feet is as inspiring as ever.

Alas, this buoyancy is not present throughout, as directors Pierre Coffin (also the voice of most of the Minions) and Kyle Balda and writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio commit the cardinal sequel sin of splitting up their characters into dispersed storylines. Gru (Steve Carell, having a ball as always), Lucy (Kristen Wiig), and the girls all head out to the European mash-up/Marx Brothers reference country of Freedonia to meet Gru’s long-lost twin brother Dru (Carell pulling double duty), but everyone has their own thing going on. The much more outwardly charming Dru tries to pull Gru back into a life of villainy to fulfill a family legacy, while Lucy is more focused on getting the girls (who have their own subplots that have essentially nothing to do with anything else) to really truly think of her as a mom.

The Minions’ storyline succeeds the most by following an instinct of loyalty and getting everyone back together. Dru is not the only one trying to drag Gru back to a life of crime, as his little yellow assistants commence an insurrection that results in a mass resignation. They ultimately wind up imprisoned (if you love the Minions, you will love seeing them become the ruling jailhouse gang), where they see the error of their ways and craft an impromptu aircraft out of prison toilets and washing machines. There’s that ol’ Minion ingenuity, implemented for the purpose of absurd goodness.

This is a busy movie, leaving little room for its ostensible villain to make much of an impression. This series has never really needed strong antagonists, as its most interesting conflicts have been more internal. But with the heroes all now mostly on the side of good, it would help if diamond thief Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) were more of a complementary counterpoint. Instead, he is just a bizarre presence sticking out like a sore thumb, with his defining characteristic being his fetishization of the ’80s.

There is a weird tension at the heart of Despicable Me 3. So much happens, but so much is left teased. The ending suggests that this has been one 90 minute-long trailer for the next real Dru-centric adventure. But really, the problem here is that there is not a strong enough capitalization on this series’ enduring sweetness. The girls are adorable, they love Gru, Gru’s a great dad, Lucy never needed to try so hard to be accepted, and the Minions are so, so loyal. Everyone is on the same side, thus why it is such a shame that they are not all in the same scenes as often as possible.

Despicable Me 3 is Recommended If You Like: Cramming as Many Plotlines as Possible Into 90 Minutes

Grade: 3 out of 5 Minions Blowing Raspberries

Best Movie Scenes of 2015

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The best mini-movies that had us rocking in and falling out of our seats in the past year.

King-Bob

10. Jurassic World, T. Rex vs. Indominus Rex – A.K.A the 2015 Late Night War.

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