Movies & TV / Reviews

Minions: The Rise of Gru Review

July 1, 2022 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU Image Credit: Illumination & Universal Pictures
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
Minions: The Rise of Gru Review  

Directed By: Kyle Balda
Written By: Matthew Fogel and Brian Lynch
Runtime: 90 minutes
MPA Rating: Rated PG for some action/violence and rude humor

Steve Carell – Gru
Pierre Coffin – Minions
Alan Arkin – Wild Knuckles
Julie Andrews – Gru’s Mom
Taraji P. Henson – Belle Bottom
Michelle Yeoh – Master Chow
Russell Brand – Nefario
Jean-Claude Van Damme – Jean-Clawed
Dolph Lundgren – Svengeance
Danny Trejo – Stronghold
Lucy Lawless – Nun-chuck
Will Arnett – Mr. Perkins
Steve Coogan – Silas Ramsbottom

The Minions are back, and young Gru is along for the ride. Minions: The Rise of Gru continues after the events of the 2015 prequel, Minions, depicting the origins of Gru’s goofy, zany underlings. After getting “adopted” by Gru, the Minions (voiced once again by Pierre Coffin) are out to prove themselves to their exalted “Mini-Boss.” Meanwhile, Gru is out to demonstrate his skills as a supervillain and wants to kickstart his career by joining the notorious gang of super crooks, The Vicious 6.

The Vicious 6 just kicked out their septuagenarian leader, Wild Knuckles (Arkin), so they are looking to fill that slot, and Gru is eager to show he’s got the right stuff. After Gru absconds a magical Zodiac Stone, The Vicious 6 need to enact their plan to take over the world, and that makes Gru their next target. So, the Minions set out to save their kidnapped boss as The Vicious 6 ready their plot that could put the entire world in peril.

The Minions are an amusing bunch, but they don’t have enough gas to fuel their own story. However, even with Gru along for the ride, Minions: The Rise of Gru lacks a cohesive story that properly brings the antics of Gru and the Minions together.

The Rise of Gru plays like two separate films smooshed together. The Minions are on another road trip misadventure. Meanwhile, Gru finds himself in the clutches of his villainous idol Wild Knuckles, who makes Gru his new protege. Lots of slapstick, gags, and physical humor are on the way, but the plot unfolds in a rather lackadaisical manner. The issue with The Rise of Gru is that it’s missing a solid balance of comedy and gags versus story. As a result, the relentless comedic gags involving the Minions grow tiresome after a while. When the plot moves to Gru and Wild Knuckles, it becomes bland.

The Vicious 6 as a group is a neat concept, but in terms of the story, the characters are woefully under-developed. Henson gets the lion’s share of screentime, but the rest of the group are mostly just gimmicks. Each of The Vicious 6’s members has a unique look, amusing pun-themed names, and striking silhouettes. However, as characters, they are all rather one-note. Dolph Lundgren playing an animated, Swedish supervillain named Svengeance, who dresses like he’s cosplaying as an extra from Rollerball, should be hilarious. However, Svengeance says and does very little. Same for Jean-Claude Van Damme as the villain Jean Clawed, who has a giant lobster claw for a hand.

Lucy Lawless did have the best vocal performance as Vicious 6 member Nun-chuck, a nun who appropriately wields nunchucks. Lawless’ voice reaches a high, squeaky register as the character, and she sounds unrecognizable. Nun-Chuck also had more than a few amusing sight gags.

However, The Vicious 6 turns out to be a case where if such celebrity talents are going to be cast as a unique cadre of baddies, more should be done with them. Instead, it feels like a waste to have a notable group of actors, best known for their onscreen action hero roles, playing a group of one-note villains who don’t really do or say very much.

Instead of showcasing and developing the villains, the plot spends more time than necessary on a banal sidequest plot where the Minions learn kung-fu from a retired martial arts master-turned-acupuncturist, Master Chow (Yeoh). While it’s neat to see Yeoh voicing a character in an animated film such as this, the subplot is merely an excuse for more Minions slapstick, and Michelle Yeoh’s role is perfunctory and brief. The plot then meanders until the characters finally reconverge.

Writing and character development aside, Illumination does appear to be routinely stepping up their game with its animation quality. Kyle Balda does put together some surprisingly immersive action sequences here. The character models move with surprising depth and immersive realism, despite their wacky, oblong shapes. Unfortunately, Matthew Fogel and Brian Lynch’s script fails to marry the ambition of Balda and the animation team’s exceptional work that comes across well onscreen. Illumination may not have as prestigious a resume as Pixar or Walt Disney Animation, but the studio does put in solid animation work from time to time.

Minions: The Rise of Gru is passable as kids entertainment. Kids will likely love the Minions’ antics, and some adults will probably have a bit of fun with the zaniness. However, The Rise of Gru is still unable to elevate this franchise from its doldrums.

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
Minions: The Rise of Gru does have its amusing moments. There are a few decent laughs, but after a while, the nonstop antics of the Minions start to wear thin. Gru trying to prove himself as a supervillain, without his Minions' help, is constantly meandering, and never reaches its full potential. Despite great casting and unique designs, The Vicious 6 lack meaningful screentime as the film's antagonists. The animation and direction are impressive, but the script is unable to elevate the Minions and Despicable Me franchises to new heights. Regardless, kids will enjoy it and have a good time, and parents might even be entertained as well.