Chances are, you would have heard of or seen the cute yellow creatures that say incoherent dialogue most of the time, but can clearly say, “BANANAS!” And I must admit, even as a grown adult, I have always keenly looked forward to when the next film in the franchise is about to drop.
It is hard to believe that these cute little guys have been in our lives for 12 years now. Of course, they first appeared in ‘Despicable Me’ way back 2010, and since then have appeared in two more ‘Despicable Me’ films, as well as their own spin-off feature film and a few animated shorts. The one thing that I have always found with these films is that they are guaranteed to be funny and entertaining for the whole family.
Now, the Minions and their criminal over-lord Gru (Steve Carrell) return in ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’. This time around, directors Kyle Balda, Brad Ableson, and Jonathan del Val take fans of the franchise right back to the beginning to show not only how Gru and his team of Minions first met, but also how their journey towards world domination started.
The film goes back to a pre-teen Gru that idolises a group of super-villains led by the notorious Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson) and hopes to become a villain himself one day. His dreams seem to be coming true when a vacancy opens up within The Vicious 6 and Gru is selected for a job interview with them. However, at the interview, he learns that the vacancy has opened only due to the disappearance of his favourite member, Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin). Not only that, but Belle Bottom and the remaining super-villains laugh at him for being a child.
Determined to prove that he is a villain, Gru steals a valuable, ancient Chinese artefact while the villains are distracted. His plan is to take it back in a few days to show his worth to Belle Bottom, however, that plan fails when one of the over-zealous Minions loses the artefact, which means once the group hunt down Gru, his life is at risk. Soon the Minions find themselves on a journey to not only find the stone, but to save their beloved mini boss’s life.
Just like the other films that have built the Minions’ world, the first thing that hit me with this new film was just how much fun it is. The screenwriting team, made up of Brian Lynch and Matthew Fogel, have made sure that this is the perfect family film that will appeal to both parents and kids alike.
Not only is the film set in the vibrant 1970s, but it contains the same kind of humour and storyline that generations of animation fans can enjoy. While many animated films try to be too modern, ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ uses all the same tropes of old-school cartoons like The Smurfs, The Jetsons, and The Flintstones. Just like those cartoons, this film uses all the elements of comedy to get a laugh, from the witty one-liners, right through to outrageously funny slapstick.
Likewise, it doesn’t do anything too fancy with the plot. This is a genuine old-school good versus evil storyline. The difference being is that despite Gru being the audience’s hero, he is also kind of evil. Remarkably, even that element of the film works exceptionally well, and true fans of the franchise will also notice that so many jigsaw pieces from right across the series fall into place with this film from Gru first meeting Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), to Gru first hiring the Minions, it is all revealed and explained this time around.
What makes ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ so special to watch is that the all the adventures that Gru and the Minions have together in this film, are made special by the fact that the characters around them are voiced by an avalanche of stars, including the talents of Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michelle Yeoh, Dolph Lundgren, Lucy Lawless, Danny Trejo, RZA, and Julie Andrews. In fact, keep an ear out for Yeoh’s character, because Master Chow absolutely steals the show. Part of my fun throughout this film was trying to pick which character was voiced by which Hollywood A-Lister.
If you are looking for the perfect film for the entire family, then go no further than ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’. This is a very special and fun animated film that will be lapped up by fans of the franchise, newcomers, and it is an absolute must-see. ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ has a good chance of being my favourite animated Hollywood film of the year.