Minions: The Rise of Gru goes back to its roots by refocusing on the soul of the franchise. The villainous Gru was always what made the series have a beating black heart as he attempted to be an over-the-top Bond-style villain. But succumbing to the empathetic power of children is a hard task to resist as the first film hilariously displayed.
Minions (2015) misunderstood what made the films work and gave us too much, well, Minions. They work as a supporting laugh in the backdrop but at the forefront, it can be exhausting to an extraordinary extreme.
The new sequel brings back the centerpiece character of the Despicable Me franchise as a child. Will the new movie please parents and children alike?
Here is our full review of Minions: The Rise of Gru.
Minions: The Rise of Gru review
The new animated sequel sees Gru (Steve Carell) in his early years as an 11-year-old aspiring to be a famous villain. The film begins like a James Bond movie set in the ’70s with an action-packed setpiece that has homages to Indiana Jones. A famous villainous character voiced by Alan Arkin as Wild Knuckles seeks a treasure called “The Zodiac” (not the murderer) and ends up losing it to the wrong people.
The movie also has a supergroup of bad guys by the name of Vicious Six. This team of super baddies has a stellar voice cast including Taraji P. Henson, Danny Trejo, Dolph Lundgren, and JCVD himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme (as Jean Clawed).
As we are reintroduced to younger Gru, the film reacquaints us with where Minions left off as Gru has adopted the gibberish goofballs into his life. Somehow Gru gets invited to audition to join the Vicious Six and sets out to prove he has what it takes to be an asset to the evil organization. When the audition goes horribly wrong, Gru finds himself opposite the villains and abruptly gets abducted by one of its founding members.
This prompts his yellow energetic friends to devise a plan to rescue Gru from the clutches of his kidnapper. And of course, high jinks ensue with the banana-loving companions stooging it up at every turn. They make jokes, get into trouble, and in this sequel, there is an abundance of Minion butt cheeks.
The screenplay is a tad bit dizzying. Clocking at under 90 minutes, the plot moves at a sprinting speed and if one blinks, it’s possible to miss how characters landed in various circumstances. It’s an energetic pace that is just as kinetically charged as the Minions themselves.
What’s more, the script is extremely random, for example at the end of the second act the movie introduces us to an acupuncture warrior named Master Chow (Michelle Yeoh) who trains the Minions in the art of martial arts. Did it have to randomly insert a fight training montage in the movie? No. Does it serve any purpose? Definitely not. Is it still hilarious? Absolutely. Plus, any movie with Michelle Yeoh (including Everything Everywhere All At Once) is automatically better for having her.
To be frank, this reviewer was not a fan of the 2015 Minions film. The characters are undoubtedly infectious and hilarious as supporting characters. But kind of like sugar, a lot of it can cause a headache and regret. Minions: The Rise of Gru improves on past mistakes and returns to what made the series work. It’s the lovable balance of Steve Carell’s charm as Gru sprinkled with the wackiness of his fast-talking sidekicks.
The Minions remain an acquired taste for parents as their presence does get tedious at different times. Although their scenes in this film drew more sentimental reactions from the audience attendees than in their last outing. And to be fair, these characters were never high-brow entertainment. As tiresome as they can be they have endearing qualities that make them fun to watch.
When judging these films or any movies aimed at a younger demographic, it’s easy to just exclaim “it’s a kids’ movie” and grade it on a curve based on this statement. It’s more important to ask whether it respects children and thankfully, Minions: The Rise of Gru understands the assignment.
The animation is colorful and eye-popping as in all the previous outings. One of the finer qualities of Illumination Entertainment is they are less focused on competing with other studios like Pixar and are simply devoted to crafting visually pleasing fun films. Many sequences are eye-catching and vibrant including one sequence involving a Chinese dragon dance.
Minions: The Rise of Gru: Should you see it in theaters?
Minions: The Rise of Gru is a return to form for the animated franchise balancing slapstick silliness and heart. The Minions themselves will remain an acquired taste for some parents but this sequel is a vast improvement over the last outing.
The animated sequel drives like a Minion behind the wheel of a car, moving fast, haphazardly, and wildly out of control. But it maintains charm while doing so and will surely entertain all audiences this coming weekend.
Minions: The Rise of Gru hits theaters on July 1.