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July 17, 2022

There is nothing particularly remarkable about the new Minions movie but fans of the franchise will still find it (mildly) entertaining

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Minions: The Rise of Gru  ☆☆ 1/2

Starring: (voices): Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin, Taraji P. Henson, Michelle Yeoh, RZA, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, and Alan Arkin

Directed by: Kyle Balda

Tagline: Brace yourself.

The Minions may be all kinds of adorable, but it wasn’t immediately clear in 2010, when Despicable Me released, that it had the potential to spawn a franchise that would still be churning out instalments over a decade later. Yet here we are. The fifth film in the series has now hit cinemas, and it’s both incredibly mediocre and disarmingly cute, not unlike many of the chapters that have preceded it.

Illumination’s most successful franchise now takes us back in time with Minions: The Rise of Gru, the backstory of the lovable titular supervillain (voiced by Steve Carell) who has helmed much of the series.

We find ourselves in the 1970s where we meet a young Gru, a tweenager who dreams of becoming the world’s most formidable supervillain. An ardent fan of the Vicious 6 – the most badass collective of villains – Gru decides to apply to join the supergroup in the hopes of replacing their founder, Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin), who has been betrayed and disposed of by the group. When the protagonist is promptly shot down by the team’s new leader Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson), he steals the coveted Zodiac Stone before he exits the villains’ lair, hoping it will prove he deserves a spot on the bad guys’ team.

His plan doesn’t go quite as seamlessly as he would have hoped, but his enthusiastic Minions (Pierre Coffin) – Kevin, Bob, and Stuart included, of course – will do every (ridiculous) thing they can to help.

With a perfunctory tale holding things together, The Rise of Gru relies mostly on frenetic action, silly hijinks, and irresistible cuteness, delivering enough fun to keep you mildly entertained while not doing anything particularly spectacular or noteworthy. There’s silliness aimed at younger viewers, who are clearly the film’s primary audience, and ‘70s nostalgia targeting grownups who will get a few chuckles out of this 90-odd minute adventure.

What is plain to see though is that this is a series that continue to exist not because it has interesting stories to tell but because it is marketable and still makes the studio plenty of cash. If you’ve enjoyed their previous adventure then you’ll have fun at the latest outing of Gru and the Minions, but if you never fell for their charm, then the fifth film in the series won’t change your mind.

Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
*** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection

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