Minions: The Rise of Gru Review – More Pint-Sized Chaos

Children love them. Adults tolerate them. Their studio owners absolutely adore them, especially the eye-popping return-on-investment (ROI) that makes accountants drool with happiness. The “them” in question, of course, are the Minions. This veritable army of self-replicating, sentient Twinkies with a mischievous streak all but stole the Despicable Me animated series right from under the Steve Carell-voiced supervillain Gru. A standalone prequel/sequel/spinoff centred on the Minions themselves was inevitable. That’s exactly what fans of the series received back in 2015. Multiple delays, including a prolonged, pandemic-related studio shutdown, pushed back the release date of this sequel to the prequel/spinoff several times.

Luckily and/or thankfully for fans of the Minion-verse, those delays are in the rearview mirror. However, given the seven-year gap between entries, it’s reasonable to imagine that the preteen fans of the first Minions film have outgrown any interest in the follow-up. Like the seemingly endless supply of the Minions themselves, where preteens become teens, preschoolers eventually become preteens, potentially filling in the gaps for their aged-out cohorts. For viewers still interested in the Minions, Minions: The Rise of Gru, delivers a similar mix of Three Stooges/Looney Tunes-inspired physical humour, eye-popping visuals, and with heart-tugging pathos as its semi-illustrious predecessors.

Picking up almost immediately from the singularly titled Minions, The Rise of Gru finds the overalls- and goggle-wearing title characters firmly ensconced with the preteen Gru (Carell). The supervillain hopeful spends his days, nights, and weekends dreaming of joining the world’s preeminent baddie team, the Vicious Six. For their part, the newly adopted Minions want nothing more than aid Gru in fulfilling his lifelong dream. As always, though, they prove to be more of a hindrance than a help. It’s not their fault or Gru’s fault that the Vicious Six, led by the Blacksploitation-inspired Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson), reject Gru’s application for membership when they first see him. To the Vicious Six, there’s no place for a preteen on their supervillain team.

Seeing an opportunity to prove himself, Gru impulsively steals the Vicious Six’s prize possession, an ancient, jade-encrusted amulet with magical powers. The amulet plays a key role in the Vicious Six’s upcoming supervillain plan and the theft therefore sets the supervillain team against Gru and the Minions. However, newcomer Minion Otto, misplaces the amulet and, in turn, separates Gru from the Minions. The three central Minions–Kevin, Stuart, and Bob (all voiced by Pierre Coffin)–race to find Otto and the amulet before some vaguely timed, potentially apocalyptic event moots Gru’s potential membership in the Vicious Six.


Directed by Kyle Balda, Brad Ableson, and Jonathan del Val, Minions: The Rise of Gru keeps the focus primarily on the Minions and their endlessly amusing antics and relegates Gru to a supporting role. A cross-country trek that ends in San Francisco also let the Minions get into and out of all kinds of kid-friendly trouble, often of their own making. Their antics rely on a combination of dumb luck, their virtual invincibility to physical harm, and the kindness of strangers, including Master Chow (Michelle Yeoh), to help them overcome a handful of disposable henchmen and the might of the Vicious Six. It’s all mostly unobjectionable, time-wasting fun, though the reliance on lazy ethnic and religious stereotypes borders on the offensive and insensitive more than once.

Ultimately, though, the Minions: The Rise of Gru gives us more of what we’ve seen and heard through the Despicable Me series and their first prequel/spin-off. Watching these characters, who are the embodiment of chaotic energy, break objects, taboos, and mores with consequence-free abandon is pure fantasy. But thanks to the brisk running time of Minions: The Rise of Gru, it’s the kind of escapism that families probably need now more than ever.

Minions: The Rise of Gru opened theatrically on Friday, July 1st.