Written By Darren
Rating 3 out of 5
Minions: The Rise of Gru brings back everyone’s favourite Minions for another big screen adventure, that once again delivers their signature humour even if it feels like at times this franchise is starting to lose steam.
The Despicable Me films have been a runaway box office success, and that is largely due to the wildly entertaining side characters: the Minions. Yes, these adorable little yellow guys quickly stole audiences’ hearts with their hilarious shenanigans, gibberish dialogue, and covers of hit songs. So much that they got their own spinoff film back in 2015, which after grossing over a billion dollars at the box office, naturally spawned a sequel. And while there is enough in this sequel to entertain audiences and deliver some truly hilarious moments, you can feel the creativity of the franchise beginning to wane.
Picking up after the events of the first Minions film, the Minions have found a young Gru and are working as his henchmen. But Gru gets kidnapped by a super villian, forcing Kevin, Stuart and Bob to embark on a daring rescue mission to save their boss. While watching a Despicable Me/Minions film, I do not need a lot of plot. I need just enough to provide the Minions with enough gags to fill a ninety minute run time. And there is enough of that in this film. But at the same time, the story tries to be too much at once which unfortunately distracts from the Minion shenanigans I wanted the film to focus on. There are elements of an old Bond film with the Villainous Six group chasing the Minions and Gru, a kung-fu action film in the second half, and the animated family friendly comedy the franchise is known as. Tonally, it’s all over the place, and while each of these storylines could have worked, the film needed to pick one and stick with this. Luckily, this won’t be a problem for younger viewers who will enjoy all the wild moments in the film, but it is a little tiring for the adults in the audience taking their children to the film.
Thankfully, the Minions save the day with their shenanigans. Easily the highlight of the film was the airplane sequence, which features the Minions posing as a flight crew to fly across the country. I was dying with laughter watching Bob dressed up as a stewardess handing out snacks, while Kevin and Stuart attempted to figure out how to fly the 7/47 with a full passenger load. There are lots of other great moments throughout the film, which keeps the ninety minute run time moving at a great pace, but that was the highlight of the film.
Given the 70s time setting of the film, the film has a soundtrack full of memorable hits from that decade. It’s a fun soundtrack for older audiences to enjoy, and while it could have been used to introduce younger audiences to such classics, the songs are merely in the background and not featured properly during the film to create a lasting impression on younger audiences. Though, the Minions do cover The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” which was the other laugh out loud moment of the film, while also filling the audience with absolute joy, making it the next Minions cover I need on my phone.
As with the rest of the films in the series, the animation is crisp, colourful and beautiful to look at. The voice cast is great, bringing to life the characters in the film. Having Steve Carell return to the franchise as a young Gru was fun, while Michelle Yeoh continues to fully embrace each cinematic universe she is part of, proving why she is one of the most versatile actresses in the business currently.
Unfortunately, the film underutilized the supporting voice cast for the Villainous Six, as with names like Taraji P. Henson, Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless and Danny Trejo, they could have created a truly memorable supervillain team up. Instead, their writing is uninspired and relegates them to the background for the majority of the film, giving them very little material to work with. And given the prequel nature of the film, there are lots of small tie-ins to the Despicable Me films that will delight audiences throughout the film.
Compared to the rest of the films in the franchise, this is probably my least favourite to date. It is in no way a bad film, but it was just missing that creative spark that made previous entries runaway hits that took the world by storm. So, parents prepare for some mindless fun while taking the little ones to Minions: The Rise of Gru, but the children will have an absolute blast with this film. The Minions are back and have some hilarious laugh out loud moments in this beautifully animated film, even if Minions: The Rise of Gru does not have the great story and heart that made the Despicable Me franchise the box office success it is.