If you would have told me a few months back that the latest Minions movie, “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” would be a fun delightful surprise of the year, I wouldn’t have believed you. While I enjoyed the first two films, the third one wasn’t the greatest and the 2015 “Minions” was bad. So my expectations were relatively low. However, this film is fun, funny, entertaining and at times adorable. It brilliantly utilizes the ’70s music and fashion styles. I was delightfully surprised with its message of finding a purpose regardless of age.
The latest entry to the “Despicable Me” franchise follows a 12-year-old Gru who aspires to become a supervillain and the newest member of the Vicious 6, a supervillain supergroup. Directed by Kyle Balda, the film features the voices of Steve Carell, Taraji P. Henson, Michelle Yeoh, Julie Andrews, Russell Brand, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Danny Trejo.
We see a compelling dichotomy between Gru and the older Wild Knuckles. Both aren’t the immediate idea of a supervillain. While Wild Knuckles inspires young Gru to become a villain, Gru witnesses firsthand the betrayal Wild Knuckles experiences from the supergroup he founded. Giving insight to what isn’t normally associated with inspiration and being a role model, we see a dynamic develop with Gru and the minions, who embark on various outlandish journeys to help Gru along the way.
One of my favorite sequences involves Master Chow, voiced by Yeoh, and three minions (Kevin, Stuart, and Bob) in an attempt to enter a heavily secured house to rescue Gru. The minions must learn some kung fu to defend themselves from the guards. The training sequence ensues in hilarious montages.
Carell does an excellent job with voicing “mini-boss,” as the minions call Gru, bringing innocence and conviction to the character. Alan Arkin as Wild Knuckles is also great. The film comes just under the 90-minute mark and it flies by, thanks to its decent pace. The animation is superb with its vibrant color palette.
It does suffer from prequel syndrome. Since we already know the results from the other films in the series, there are no real stakes with our main characters. While it doesn’t break any molds with its premise and storytelling, it does it well enough to keep the younger audience engaged (who are the targeted viewers). Some jokes don’t land and there are plenty of fart and butt jokes, but it’s the minions and I don’t expect any less from them.
Overall, “Minions: The Rise of Gru” is an entertaining summer family film that’ll amuse the kids and may engage adults with the music and story. A vibrant, funny, and effective prequel to fans of the Despicable Me movie.
“Minions: The Rise of Gru” is now in theaters!