MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU gets 4/10 Been there, squashed that

Directed by Kyle Balda

Starring Steve Carrell, Alan Arkin, and Jean-Claude Van Damme


Minions: The Rise of Gru is the latest prequel animation in the ‘Minions’ series. Set in the ’70s with a pumping Austin Powers feel, it brings us 11-year-old Gru meeting his villainous heroes. It gets right into the action with a Tomb Raider style treasure grab, a clever Bond theme song, and punchy introduction to the characters. Just when you are settled in with your choc bomb and thinking you are on to a winner… it crashes and burns.

The Rise of Gru lacks storyline and structure, with too many aimless wandering side plots resulting in 1.5 hours of not much of anything. A super-villain backstory movie had so much potential – is it nature or nurture? Is evil a split decision in a landmark moment, or a gradual accumulation of actions? Unfortunately, The Rise of Gru misses its opportunity to tackle big questions, and instead opts for the easy (and overdone) themes of friendship and persistence.

Slapstick cartoons have been making kids laugh since the age of Wile. E Coyote, so your kids will still get a few laughs from the many ways the Minions injure themselves and each other. The ever loyal, ever sweet, ever yellow, ever indestructible Minions are the best part of this movie for the kids.

The few highlights for parents include homages to Ferris Bueller, James Bond, The Matrix and Mission Impossible, and a hilarious moment reminding us how slow it was to dial a rotary phone…even when you are calling for a ransom.

The best sequence is 11-year-old Gru’s evil-in-action as he torments joggers with ice cream cones, high scores the pinball with magnets, laughs at JAWS, and cheats at arcade basketball with the help of his little yellow friends. What else is a schoolboy villain to do with his powers?

The film also fails to make the most of a big-name voice cast including Steve Carrell, Alan Arkin, and Jean-Claude Van Damme (playing Jean Clawed…nice pun), and minor roles by Russel Brand, Michelle Yeoh, Mike Myers, and Julie Andrews.

Perhaps a little less time should have been spent on casting, and a little more should have been spent on story development.


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