Minions: The Rise of Gru is an origin story and an ode to the music of the ‘70s.
The year is 1976. A bored teacher asks the children in her class at elementary school what they want to be when they grow up. Gru (voiced by Steve Carrel) is certain – he wants to be a supervillain … and before long he gets his chance, thanks to the clandestine efforts of the nefarious Vicious Six. They operate from the bowels of a building daubed with the sign “Criminal Records”. The Vicious Six was founded by an ageing character known as Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin). He suddenly he finds himself on the outer, but not before he manages to lay his hands on a gold pendant known as the Zodiac Stone, which possesses great powers.
With a vacancy in the sextet, remaining members of the Vicious Six are interviewing candidates and, you guessed it, Gru – whose heroes are this very group – is one of them. Only when they – Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson), Jean Clawed (Jean-Claude Van Damme), Nunchuck (Lucy Lawless), Svengeance (Dolph Lundgren) and Stronghold (Danny Trejo) – agreed to see him, they had no idea he was just a kid. The new leader, Belle Bottom, labels him a tubby little punk and invites Gru to come back when he’s done something to impress her. Having ditched his faithful, if accident-prone minions, Gru sets in chain a series of events that has members of the Vicious Six chasing him and minions Kevin, Stuart, Bob and Otto. Meanwhile, the minions are trying to prove their worth to Gru.
Minions: The Rise of Gru is heaps of fun and features a delightful script, which promises to continue the popularity of Gru and the Minions. It’s filled with good humour, animated sight gags, adventure and fantasy. Hair raising chases, combat, Indiana Jones-like impediments, the hilly terrain of San Francisco, a kooky shaped lair and Chinese New Year celebrations all feature. Importantly, it is family fun. While children will appreciate it, so too will adults.
Gru remains our favourite good bad guy and the minions bumbling sidekicks, who communicate in tongues. Master Chow (Michelle Yeoh) kicks butt as the kung fu master turned acupuncturist who teaches minions Kevin, Stuart and Bob martial arts. As Gru’s mum, Marlena (Julie Andrews) won’t stand for any nonsense, while Dr Nefario, (Russell Brand) is an aspiring mad scientist who gives Gru a helping hand. The blend of ditsy characters, colourful animation and a rollicking storyline works a treat. Add to that a terrific ’70 soundtrack from Grammy-winning music producer Jack Antonoff and you’re onto a winner.
Long live Gru and the minions. Already, it is the highest grossing animated film franchise of all time. The box office take is set to burgeon.
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Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.