Review Movie: “Minions The Rise of Gru”
“Minions The Rise of Gru” is set in 1976. Had I seen it when I was six, I would have laughed uncontrollably and wanted to watch it over and over. But now, even though I’m not six years old anymore, my sense of humor is still at that level.
As many readers of this site know, I adore the Minions. These pill-shaped creatures that are yellow and always create trouble but remains devoted to Gru make me laugh hysterically- and I don’t regret it one bit. After their own prequel,”Minions”, and a lackluster 2016 stop for present-day’s sibling rivalry plot in “Despicable Me 3”, Kevin Le Minion and his one or two eyed pals have returned to support eleven years old version of Gru. Gru is a tiny tyrant who controls his own private island and is known among the employees as “mini-boss.” When he’s not pondering how his workers “got so much denim” for their costumes, Gru daydreams about joining The Vicious 6, an Avengers-like group of baddies formed by Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin).
Directors: Kyle Balda, Brad Ableson, Jonathan del Val
Writers: Matthew Fogel, Brian Lynch
Stars: Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin, Alan Arkin
We see Wild Knuckles and his team in an action-packed, Indiana Jones-esque landscape. They are on a quest to find a necklace of jewels called The Zodiac Stones. If they succeed, the Vicious 6 will have unlimited power during the Chinese New Year celebration. With all of the terrible music choices that happen throughout this series, I thought for sure that The Zodiac Stones would be accompanied by “Float On” by the Floaters-you know, that trashy classic about astrology. Unfortunately, the filmmakers are not very bright. Granted, the song was released in 1977, but “Minions The Rise of Gru” makes use of Lipps Inc.’s 1980 hit “Funkytown” not once but twice. After bravely diving into danger to recover the gems, Wild Knuckles is betrayed by team member Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson), who coldly informs him that theft among thieves is a myth before dropping him out of their plane to his probable death. With her ever-changing wardrobe and enormous Afro (which is animated with an incredible amount of texture), Belle resembles Cleopatra Jones. The other four members have equally pun-based names, too. There’s Stronghold (Danny Trejo), Nun-Chuck (Lucy Lawless), the Nordic strongman Svengeance (Dolph Lundgren) and, my personal favorite, Jean-Clawed– a dude with an enormous lobster claw for a hand. Just kidding! He’s voiced by Steven Seagal. I told you this movie wasn’t that clever.
The Vicious 6—I mean 5—are now seeking for a much younger replacement, as the much older Wild Knuckles has been removed from the equation. Gru applies for the position and receives a response in the form of a self-destructing 8-track tape. He goes to Belles Bottom’s lair by entering her record store, where he meets his future colleague Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand). Nefario delivers Gru the 45 of Linda Ronstadt’s cover of “You’re No Good,” which allows him to enter the secret refuge. Gru is dismissed despite being barely out of junior high since he stole the Zodiac Stones. In order to retrieve them, Belle and her crew go after him.
Although it may be hard to believe, there are two other plot-centric stories in “Minions The Rise of Gru.” One revolves around the quest for revenge by the surviving Wild Knuckles in San Francisco, and the other focuses on Minions learning kung fu from Master Chow (Michelle Yeoh) so they can save Gru after he’s been kidnapped. Actually, those two go hand-in-hand, Gru was taken by Wildcats as an opportunity to take back what rightfully belongs to them. Mr. Knuckles is unaware that Otto, the newest Minion who cannot stop talking, has traded the jewelry for a pet rock. Therefore, as punishment, Gru must endure a type of torture I would be more than willing to go through: he’s securely tied to a large record player that will play the best disco song ever recorded on loop for 48 hours straight-the Andrea True Connection’s “More More More.”
In “Despicable Me 3,” Gru’s mom (played by the always lovely Julie Andrews) is, once again, nonplussed by her son or his minions. The Vicious 6 show up to extract a pound of flesh from her anyway. Seeing the star of “The Sound of Music” getting ass kicked by a nun was riotously funny and clever! As with “Minions,” “Minions The Rise of Gru” is a fast-paced film. This time, though, the pace is a little less exhausting and works to the picture’s benefit. The laughs are well-timed and the viewer isn’t given too much time to consider how preposterous Matthew Fogel’s script is. The animation is impressive, going from the beautifully designed Chinatown in San Francisco to the look of young Gru. He has the same big eyes that fill with emotion for his “little girls.” Carell does a great job of making his voice sound younger and less harsh. Henson and the rest of cast members sound like they’re having fun, which makes it more enjoyable for viewers.
Even if you can’t stand the Minions (who are once again voiced in “Minionese” by Pierre Coffin), this one may be bearable. Especially if you’re old enough to get the 1976 jokes but still feel young enough to chuckle at all of the goofy slapstick. If nothing else, everything is neatly wrapped up at the end, bringing the DMU up-to-date, thus removing any need for subsequent movies. That is, unless this film generates a profit.