Film Review: “Minions: The Rise of Gru” Keeps the Fun Going in 5th “Despicable Me” Film

Illumination returns to the Despicable Me world with the fifth entry in the franchise, Minions: The Rise of Gru. A direct sequel to the 2015 origin story Minions, the film also serves as a fine entry point to the series for young viewers while celebrating what made these characters so popular in the first place. Universal Studios debuted the film at Annecy Festival ahead of its July 1st release.

(Illumination/Universal)

(Illumination/Universal)

Young Gru dreams of nothing more than joining the Vicious 6, an exclusive league of super villains, and his team of newly adopted minions are willing to do anything to help their “mini boss” achieve his dream. Of course, they are easily distracted banana-obsessed minions, so things won’t go according to plan. But along the way, Gru will find himself on a path to becoming the evil genius and father of the year audiences fell in love with back in 2010.

Steve Carell returns as the voice of young Gru, convincingly sounding more juvenile while maintaining his signature accent. Julie Andrews is also back as his mother Marlena. The voice cast is expanded with some big names as the Vicious 6 (Alan Arkin, Taraji P. Henson, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless, Dolph Lundgren, and Danny Trejo) plus Michelle Yeoh as a Kung Fu master who tries very hard to teach the Minions how to fight in spite of their short arms and legs.

There are some truly brilliant moments of Minion mayhem in the film, but nothing tops a fantastic sequence where the Minions take over a flight as the pilots and crew. The all-adult Annecy audience had let out a few snickers leading up to this sequence in the middle of the film, but this was the tipping point at which everyone was fully on board this crazy ride. It was particularly fitting for an audience that is notorious for throwing paper airplanes while waiting for sessions to begin, erupting in applause whenever one reaches the stage from the back of the auditorium.

(Illumination/Universal)

(Illumination/Universal)

In terms of what Minions: The Rise of Gru has to say that hasn’t already been conveyed through the previous films, it’s ultimately a film about dreams. Not just the importance of having them, but the need for having a support system that encourages you to achieve them. Ultimately, the minions play a key role in delivering Gru to a path that allows him to become the super villain depicted in Despicable Me.

Arriving at the peak of the summer movie season, Minions: The Rise of Gru offers family-friendly fun on the big screen. Just because Gru is younger in this film doesn’t mean it’s just kids' stuff, with lots of gags and homages for adults that will keep you giggling all the way to the credits.

I give Minions: The Rise of Gru 4 out of 5 Minions-ified 70s pop classics.

Minions: The Rise of Gru opens exclusively in theaters on July 1st.

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