Minions: The Rise of Gru

  • 16 Jul - 22 Jul, 2022
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

Here is the fifth in the Despicable Me family animation franchise, all about the east European supervillain called Gru and his bug-eyed little yellow henchcreatures, speaking speeded-up Franco-Italian gobbledegook. In fact, it is the second in the specifically Minions-oriented movie series, but it’s an origin-myth prequel that brings Gru and his followers together – it could as well be called Gru: The Rise of the Minions.

It’s 1976 in California and Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) is an 11-year-old schoolkid whose family origins are still unclear. Where the other popular kids are picked up after school by their families, he is met by these weird little thingies, who turn out to have answered his wanted ad for help around the house and whose own biological origins are also a mystery.

Young Gru is nursing a hero-worshipping crush on a funky phalanx of superevildoers called the Vicious Six who have a secret lair under a San Francisco music store called Criminal Records. They were once led by a cranky old guy called Wild Knuckles (voiced by Alan Arkin), with a beaky-nosed appearance that makes him look very similar to Gru – it must lead the audience to wonder where we’re going with this story and how many drafts it went through. Anyway, he was betrayed by his Vicious Six comrade Belle Bottom (Taraji P Henson) who stole the ancient mega-powerful amulet that Wild Knuckles had taken for them and then condemned him to an assumed death.

Gru applies to join the Vicious Six and is humiliatingly rebuffed, so to prove his worth he steals the ancient amulet that the Six and also (the secretly still living) Wild Knuckles are each desperate to reclaim. But Gru’s wacky minions manage to lose the amulet that comes into the possession of a cool biker called Otto (voiced by RZA). Wacky “quest” plot lines are therefore cranked into action, which involve the Minions learning kung fu from an acupuncturist called Chow (Michelle Yeoh).

For us, the Gru/Minions franchise never really ascended to the inspirational heights that Pixar periodically attained. Although the character of Gru is mildly funny, the minions are unfunny without him and have never convincingly attained spin-off hero status. This is another of those intellectual property concepts whose trademarked quirky voices and characters should be laid to rest.

– Compilation