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Minions – The Rise of Gru Movie Review: Silly Seventies Fun

The box office numbers for films like Top Gun: Maverick and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness make it clear: adults are ready to head back to the movies. More family-friendly fare, however, has had mixed results. Sure, there are the hits like Sonic The Hedgehog 2, but we’ve also had the underwhelming performance of films like Lightyear. The pandemic trained a lot of families that streaming was the way to go for family movie nights. Minions: The Rise of Gru heads into theaters this holiday weekend, begging the question: does this film have a big enough draw to pull in families that are now well trained to wait for streaming?

(from left) Minions Kevin and Otto, Gru (Steve Carell) and Minions Stuart and Bob in Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru, directed by Kyle Balda.
© 2022 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Audiences of 2015’s Minions got a tease for The Rise of Gru during the ending of the film, when a young Gru (Steve Carell) appeared for the first time. Now we get a full movie about this little villain and his love of a league of supervillains known as The Vicious 6 (Taraji P. Henson, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, and Alan Arkin.) Gru steals an artifact from their headquarters in order to impress them, leading to a kidnapping and rescue attempt through the streets of San Fransico.

(from left) Stronghold (Danny Trejo), Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson), Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin), Jean Clawed (Jean-Claude Van Damme), Svengeance (Dolph Lundgren) and Nunchuck (Lucy Lawless) in Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru, directed by Kyle Balda.
© 2022 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The film leans heavily into the 1970s, adopting lots of fun music, clothing, and details like an in-home Tupperware party and Pet Rocks. The Despicable Me franchise is only 12 years old, meaning those references will be mostly for “this looks silly” style laughs and not for any true audience nostalgia. That really is a shame, as that 1970s spirit provides an additional layer of humor. One that will bring up some great memories for anyone who does see the film and remembers any part of that decade.

(from left) Minions Bob and Stuart in Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru, directed by Kyle Balda.
© 2022 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The Rise of Gru is more silliness and style over actual substance. The stellar animation and all-star voice talent really deliver a fun film. While the story does not dive deep, it at least moves the film along in a superficially satisfying way. You will be hard-pressed not to at least chuckle a few times while you watch. That brings me back to my original question about this movie drawing audiences to the theater. The Rise of Gru does not demand to be seen in a theater. There are no epic action scenes or stunning visuals that just will not translate to your television. That said, I sat in a packed theater at my screening of the film and the audience loved it. There were tons of chuckles, giggles, and full-on laughing fits from both the kids and adults in the room. Watching this movie with others and hearing their enjoyment really did make the experience that much better.

If you want that full in-theater experience for yourself, Minions: The Rise of Gru enters theaters on July 1, 2022.

About Minions: The Rise of Gru

Rating: PG (Some Action/Violence|Rude Humor)
Runtime: 1h 27m

Long before he becomes the master of evil, Gru (Oscar® nominee Steve Carell) is just a 12-year-old boy in 1970s suburbia, plotting to take over the world from his basement.

It’s not going particularly well. When Gru crosses paths with the Minions, including Kevin, Stuart, Bob, and Otto—a new Minion sporting braces and a desperate need to please—this unexpected family joins forces. Together, they build their first lair, design their first weapons, and strive to execute their first missions.

When the infamous supervillain supergroup, the Vicious 6, oust their leader—legendary martial arts fighter Wild Knuckles (Oscar® winner Alan Arkin)— Gru, their most devoted fanboy, interviews to become their newest member. The Vicious 6 is not impressed by the diminutive, wannabe villain, but then Gru outsmarts (and enrages) them, and he suddenly finds himself the mortal enemy of the apex of evil. With Gru on the run, the Minions attempt to master the art of kung fu to help save him, and Gru discovers that even bad guys need a little help from their friends.

As The Bunny Hops®