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'Despicable Me 3' disappoints with confusing plot and lack of humor

Despicable Me 3 (Universal Pictures / Illumination Entertainment)

DESPICABLE ME 3 (2017)

Score: C-

Rated PG -- 90 minutes

For me, I am truly puzzled nor can I adequately explain why there was a third go-around of the Despicable Me movies franchise. Yes, they make a ton of money. Projected box office for this opening weekend is $85 million. Yes, even more money is going to be piled on from all of the tons of toys and memorabilia being sold.

I did not find ME 3 to be clever.

I did not find ME 3 to be funny.

But, I certainly found ME 3 to be boring.

The best test actually came at the end of the screening, when the credits began to roll. There were a ton of kids who attended the press screening. Tons. I waited anxiously for the cheers and the applause to come.

At best, the response from the kiddies was tepid. There was very little enthusiasm expressed as we all left the auditorium. Compared to the HOMECOMING screening, SPIDER-MAN felt like a rock concert.

Why such a low score? That rating was the result of an absolutely confusing plot. The story is just fragmented and scattered. The jokes were not funny. And both Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig were underdeveloped and underused. What a waste of comic talent.

Regarding the Minions -- don't get me started.

BEATRIZ AT DINNER

Score: B

Rated R -- 83 minutes

This is a sleeper film. It may come and go and be hardly noticed. But some among the readership will welcome a true art film. One, that has a dramatic plot with challenging twists and turns. Just when you think you have figured every person out ... and I can't go any further, unfortunately, because Mike White, who wrote BEATRIZ AT DINNER, has saved dramatic moments that this critic is not going to reveal nor spoil.

This film deserves an A score, but I found the film's climax to be troubling and unsatisfying. Those of you who have not become exhausted from the daily alternative facts being spewed out from Washington, D.C. may actually love this film.

Salma Hayek is Beatriz. She is a California massage therapist who has car trouble. Being stranded down in Newport Beach has its advantages and its dirty little secrets. Beatriz has a calling, has a remarkable power to take new-age massage to bring physical, mental, and spiritual healing for cancer survivors.

Car trouble leads to an invitation for Beatriz to stay for a dinner party, and eventually overnight. John Lithgow delivers his usual consistent performance. This time, he is a billionaire that you swear could be Donald Trump.

The jokes disappear and class warfare turns into a dark, dark drama for those who have, and those who do not. Again, this film is worthy of an A. If you are up to seeing this kind of an adult film, please do so. I would also add to take the time after the movie to discuss the meaning of what you just experienced. BEATRIZ can be a fulfilling evening.

PREVIEW OF COMING ATTRACTIONS NEXT WEEK

THE BIG SICK

Score: A

Rated R -- 119 minutes

You are in for a treat if you liked WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. That was director Rob Reiner's 1989 film classic, written by Nora Ephron (and starring Billy Crystal). You will absolutely love this very clever and extremely well-written romantic comedy. Yes, there is romance and yes, finally -- we have a comedy that is really laugh-out-loud funny.

The star of THE BIG SICK is Kumail Nanjiani, the star of "Silicon Valley". He and his wife Emily V. Gordon co-wrote the true story of an interracial Pakistani-American relationship. Emily is played in the film by Zoe Kazan. Oscar winner Holly Hunter and Emmy champion Ray Romano are absolutely terrific in this movie. THE BIG SICK is directed by Michael Showalter, who, himself, is a noted comedian.

This past week, THE BIG SICK opened with a limited release in New York and Los Angeles. With rave reviews and strong box office, this film is already an Oscar contender. What is "strong box office?" Playing to sell-out crowds on just five screens, THE BIG SICK took in $435,000. That translates into a per screen average of $87,000 -- which is the best to-date opening this year! Put this movie at the top of your list.

THE BEGUILED

Score: B

Rated R -- 94 minutes

Like THE BIG SICK, THE BEGUILED opened with a limited release in New York and Los Angeles this past week, again, to rave reviews and strong box office. THE BEGUILED was only on four screens and earned an impressive per screen average of $60,000.

This was one of the "buzzed" movies at the Cannes Film Festival. It is a remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood classic Western. This remake is directed by Hollywood royalty Sofia Coppola, who won Best Director at Cannes.

The story is set during the Civil War and includes three remarkable performances from Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, and Kirsten Dunst. If you love a story about betrayal and revenge, put this movie at the top of your must-see list.

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

Score: A

Rated PG-13 -- 133 minutes

The screening audience loved the energy of this great new film from start to finish. I certainly did. Six writers contributed to the story under the direction of Jon Watts. Tom Holland is a great Peter Parker. He is loaded with charisma and charm.

This is the first Spider-Man movie that Sony has produced with Marvel Studios. I am so happy for this marriage. One of my all time cinema heroes (both on screen and in real life) allows Robert Downey Jr. to play a major role in HOMECOMING, as Iron Man, a.k.a. Tony Stark.

If I had to use just one word to entice you to read my full review next week, it would be FUN. While some will be critical of the length and too much plot -- another film hero, Michael Keaton, is absolutely outstanding and seems, in the end, to tie everything together. There is obviously an inside joke regarding Keaton as BATMAN and BIRDMAN, but you will find no spoilers in next week's review.

Looking ahead to what's coming this summer? Bob Fisher has the blockbuster box office guide to this summer's movie season!

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