TL;DR – While it might not hit as hard as its predecessors, it was still a joy to be back in this world.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene
Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film
Minions: The Rise of Gru Review –
This may be due to my never having children, much to my mother’s chagrin, but I have always liked the Despicable Me films. Gru (Steve Carell) discovering who he is through the prism of his daughter’s love and then becoming a better person for it. Well, that is some compelling stuff. Heck, I even like those quirky little minions always up to mischief. I think I was the only one who laughed at their cameo in Mortal Engines. I am sure that would have changed if I had been subjected to them time after time. But coming in here, I thought that Despicable Me 3 might have started to show the limits of this story, and I wondered could a prequel help?
So to set the scene, it is 1976, and a very different set of villains torment the globe, which the film wastes no time showing as we see Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson) race through town, evading the authorities at every turn. In the lair of The Vicious 6, she reveals to their leader Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin) a map to an ancient stone pendent of power. Well, one trip to Asia later, one betrayal, and one Bond-inspired title sequence later, there is now a free spot open in The Vicious 6, and a young Gru wants in.
These films have always excelled in worldbuilding, and here is no exception. If there is a way to both build the world and tell a joke simultaneously, this film is here for it. Of the new additions, I have to say that my favourite was a Nun who uses nunchucks, who is called Nunchuck (Lucy Lawless), and I am not sorry for just how much that made me laugh throughout the film, a perfect level of synergy. Add to this a villain with a giant lobster claw called Jean Clawed, played by Jean-Claude Van Damme, which it is good to see everyone in on the joke. Then there is Taraji P. Henson capturing the perfect presence of Belle Bottom, and Michelle Yeoh is always a delight, and her turn as Master Chow brought a smile to my face.
Then there is the world that captures a delightful parody of spy and heist films, as well as the general 70s feel. The hair is big, the jeans flared, and the kung-fu is fully displayed. There is a style to the proceedings that feels very in keeping with the setting, even if it is a modern animation style. Though there were some more anachronistic references, even for a film set in 2022, the oddest moment being ‘don’t cheese me, bro’. The overall story is fine, filled with double-crosses, competing interests and the Minions like Kevin (Pierre Coffin) getting caught in the crossfire. I will say that the prequel setting did lessen some of the impacts for me as we lose the family bond that makes the films work as well as they do. Without them, the minions have to do more of the heavy thematic lifting, and it losses some of its charm. However, I also think it might have one of the better third act confrontations and we can make airplane jokes again, so that’s nice.
In the end, do we recommend Minions: The Rise of Gru? Look yes. There were a lot of fun elements here, and at the very least, it will be a good distraction that you will probably be looking for these school holidays. If you liked Minions: The Rise of Gru, I would recommend to you Kung Fu Panda 3.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Minions: The Rise of Gru
Directed by – Kyle Balda
Written by – Brian Lynch & Matthew Fogel
Based on – Despicable Me by Sergio Pablos, Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio
Music by – Heitor Pereira
Edited by – Claire Dodgson
Production/Distribution Companies – Illumination & Universal Pictures
Starring – Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin, Taraji P. Henson, Michelle Yeoh, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Alan Arkin & RZA
Rating – Australia: PG; Canada: PG; Germany: 6; New Zealand: PG; United Kingdom: U; United States: PG