An Elite, Snobby Review of ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’

Gentleminions, rise up
Image taken from IMDb
Image taken from IMDb

It’s finally out. The cinematic masterpiece every toddler and/or 40-year-old divorced mom on Facebook is jumping to see. With a 2 ½ year wait between the first teaser and the final release, thanks to COVID, this is the longest advertised animated film in history. 

Minions: the Rise of Gru was released to theaters in the U.S. on July 1, 2022, and produced by Illumination. That company name might sound familiar to Nintendo fans because Illumination will also produce the new Super Mario film in 2023. The one that’s starring Chris Pratt as Mario… Let’s-a go…?

It’s 1976, and the movie follows 11-year-old Gru, who is voiced by Steve Carell, and not a child for some reason, and has since taken in the Minions, collectively voiced by Pierre Coffin. Gru idolizes a villain team called the Vicious 6 and dreams to be included in their group. 

After the presumed death of their leader Wild Knuckles, voiced by Alan Arkin, Gru receives an invitation for an audition from the Vicious 6, finally getting his chance to join the supervillain team of his dreams. Unfortunately, the audition goes awry. Surprisingly, this team of internationally renowned supervillains doesn’t want a child in their ranks. How disgusting and unreasonable. Gru, in a last-ditch effort to impress them, steals a powerful gem called the Zodiac Stone from them. The stone is based on the Chinese Zodiac and with its power, the Vicious 6 could take over the world. And so that Illumination can pander to the Chinese market.

Here’s a little corporate secret: the Chinese market makes up most of Hollywood’s ticket sales. China has a huge population and a notoriously strict censorship policy. American films have been heavily edited or even banned if they aren’t approved by Chinese censors. Minions: the Rise of Gru was even edited for Chinese theaters. A powerpoint-style epilogue was tacked on the end of the movie showing Gru become a “good guy.”

Wild Knuckles, who’s not dead, and was betrayed by his own team, kidnaps Gru after learning he has the stone. The original three minions, Kevin, Stuart, and Bob— I remembered all their names by heart, I feel ashamed— go on a journey to rescue him.

Have you noticed something about this plot? There’s not a lot of Minions in Minions: the Rise of Gru. That’s because this entire plot is one huge backdrop for what is essentially a collection of shorts revolving around the Minions doing what they do best, which is making your five-year-old sibling laugh (and making Universal a ridiculous amount of money).

This movie sets out to make children laugh, and I’d say it goes above and beyond. The theater I saw this in was full of families with young hyperactive children, including my little brother and two younger cousins. And every time they made a dumb butt joke, the theater burst with laughter. Even I blew air out of my nose at some of the jokes. And by some, I mean one or two.

 The only real cackle I had was unfortunately near the end. But you’ll laugh too when a movie titled Minions: the Rise of Gru tries to have a solemn Pixar-esque emotional moment. I’m sorry Illumination, you’re not beating Disney at the Oscars next year. 

We know this film will entertain your little siblings. Does this film have any worth for anyone older? Yes and no. Is this a film that I would push anyone to see as soon as they possibly can? Absolutely not. If you’re an animation fan or are even just mildly interested, just wait for it to hit streaming.

Is this film an unredeemable cinematic disaster like a lot of other critics are saying? No. There are some moments in the film, wedged between the subpar kiddy Minion antics, that are genuinely sweet. Not deep or emotional, but it’s something other than hyperactive and loud, so it already exceeded my expectations.

And hey, even if you find everything about this film completely unbearable, those 90 minutes will zoom by and this film will exit your mind as quickly as it entered.

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