I loved the “Despicable Me” films and the first “Minions” movie. While they are billed as children’s films, there is just something silly and fun about the franchise. Steve Carell has done a fantastic job portraying supervillain Gru, and I was looking forward to seeing this next film in the series. Like the previous movies, while children will love it, it has added a blend of comedy that appeals to both children and adults. The film hits all the right notes to be a fun and enjoyable addition.
Minions: Rise of Gru is a computer-animated comedy film directed by Kyle Balda with Brad Ableson and Jonathan del Val as co-directors. The film has us join 12-year-old Gru (Steve Carell) and his minions as an opportunity arise to join a team of supervillains named the Vicious Six when they oust their previous leader, Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin), and Gru interviews for the position. However, things don’t quite go as planned. Gru, with the help of Kevin, Stuart, Bob, Otto, and the other Minions (Pierre Coffin), steals a valuable jewel and ends up on the run from Belle Bottom (Taraji P.Henson), Jean Clawed (Jean-Claude Van Damme), Svengeance (Dolph Lundgren), Nunchuck (Lucy Lawless), and Stronghold (Danny Trejo). Gru ends up turning to an unlikely source for help as he turns to Wild Knuckles himself and has to learn that even villains need a little help from their friends. Julie Andrews returns as Gru’s mother, Michelle Yeoh as Master Chow, who assists the Minions on their quest, RZA as a biker who helps Otto, and Russell Brand as Dr. Nefario, who Gru recruits for his inventions.
Part of this movie’s appeal is it is set in the ’70s, and the writers fully use the era in the story. Among many references, too many to count, there are nods to the Bond movies, pet rocks, bell bottoms, and Richard Simmons. Those references are likely to go over the heads of children in the audience, but any adults who’ve grown up in that time period will find the jokes and references hilarious.
That blend of adult humor and the silliness of the minions for children is part of what helps this film hit the right notes. Gru blowing up at the Minions when they mess up is something both adults and children can empathize with and the sheer fun of Gru being a supervillain is still much of the movie’s fun. He also has a rocket on his bike and gadgets like a sticky slime gun that children will love. The antics of the Minions when they try to help Gru will inevitably lead to laughter unless you aren’t already a fan of the franchise. I also love the grumpiness of Wild Knuckles and the imaginative villain names, including their matching vehicles. The film is packed with jokes; most are fun for both kids and their parents.
Another element that helps the film be successful is the music. When I talk about the right notes, including the music selected for this movie, each transition has just the right ’70s song to keep the audience excited and entertained. I especially love the use of the song You’re No Good by Linda Ronstadt, which is particularly apt to describe the villains. That piece had the audience staying in their seats during the film credits. But all the music in the movie was well selected and so much fun.
In addition to the music, the animation is designed to spark fun and laughs, but the performers bring that animation to life. Steve Carell is incredible as Gru, his attitude a blend of exasperation and a need to be accepted. He does a fantastic job of making the audience love him, but he always has as Gru. Pierre Coffin as the Minions, including Kevin, Stuart, Bob, and Otto, is sheer comedic genius. His take is silly but so much fun that you can’t help but love the Minions in all their goofiness. The villains are especially conniving and entertaining. Taraji P. Henson is strong and in charge as Bell Bottom and the rest, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Lucy Lawless, and Dany Trejo, are so obviously having a great time bringing their characters to life. They might be a touch campy at times, but mostly their performances will make you laugh. Alan Arkin as Wild Knuckles is the villain with a heart who just wants a team to be friends with him. He is gruff but warm. Michelle Yeoh as Master Chow is unrelenting fun as she encourages the Minions to release their inner beasts. Julie Andrews, RZA, and Russell Brand bring the right touches to their portrayals even though they have smaller parts. There is not one bad performance.
Most people will realize that because this is a franchise, there is no way that they will deviate from what works. Hence, the plot is ultimately predictable and has many of the same elements as the previous “Despicable” movies. However, seeing Gru develop his villain abilities and make friends is still fun. You also see how he develops his relationship with the Minions and why they’re so important to him. While it isn’t terribly original and is a simple story, the humor is more complex, providing just the right balance between the adult jokes and the entertainment for the little ones.
If you liked the original movies in the franchise and your children love the Minions, I recommend this. You will get exactly what you expect, but it will be entertaining, the jokes will be hilarious, and the music will make you want to get up and dance. The adults will love the ’70s references, and the children will love the Minions’ antics. You won’t be disappointed.
Rating: 3.5 inner beasts out of 5
Official Website: Minions: The Rise of Gru | Trailer & Movie Site | In Theaters Friday
Mr. Malcolm’s List
In the heart of the 1970s, amidst a flurry of feathered hair and flared jeans, Gru (Steve Carell) is growing up in the suburbs. A fanboy of a supervillain supergroup known as the Vicious 6, Gru hatches a plan to become evil enough to join them. Luckily, he gets some mayhem-making back-up from his loyal followers, the Minions. Together, Kevin, Stuart, Bob, and Otto – a new Minion sporting braces and a desperate need to please – deploy their skills as they and Gru build their first lair, experiment with their first weapons, and pull off their first missions. When the Vicious 6 oust their leader, legendary fighter Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin), Gru interviews to become their newest member. It doesn’t go well (to say the least), and only gets worse after Gru outsmarts them and suddenly finds himself the mortal enemy of the apex of evil. On the run, Gru will turn to an unlikely source for guidance, Wild Knuckles, and discover that even bad guys need a little help from their friends.
MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU opens in theaters on Friday, July 1, 2022.
ONE-LINER: The untold story of one twelve-year-old’s dream to become the world’s greatest supervillain.