San Francisco, 1976 The future “great villain” Gru (Steve Carell) is still twelve years old, and he only dreams that when he grows up, he will become such a villain, such a villain that the whole world will shudder. Gru already has assistants – loyal minions who appeared out of nowhere, announced that they would serve Gru, and he settled them in the basement of his mother’s house.
However, at the moment the world is terrified by completely different villains – this is the super-villainous group “Evil Six”, consisting of the leader Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin), the violent Belle Bottom (Taraji Pi Henson), the Swedish roller Svenjans (Dolph Lundgren), the sinister Jean-Cloud (Jean-Claude Van Damme) with a crab claw instead of one arm, a huge Stronghold (Danny Trejo) and a battle nun Nan-Chuck (Lucy Lawless).
The “Evil Six” have just managed to steal an ancient Chinese artifact – a medallion with symbols of the zodiac signs, which on the eve of the Chinese New Year will give its owners unprecedented power, after which no one will be able to resist their power. However, the “Six” had long accumulated contradictions with their leader, so that when Wild Knuckles managed to steal an artifact from an ancient temple, Belle Bottom, who became the new leader of the group, took the artifact, and former accomplices vilely threw Knuckles himself from a great height.
The “Six” does not want to change the name, so they announced a casting to select a villain for the vacant vacancy. Gru, who is a fan of the Evil Six, realized that he had a chance to join the legendary villainous group. However, the twelve-year-old boy, as expected, did not make any impression on the members of the “Six”, Gru was rudely refused, and then he managed to whistle the same artifact in retaliation.
Of course, the members of the “Six” immediately rushed after the guy in pursuit, and Gru instructed the minion Otto to deliver the artifact home – an absurd bumpkin who speaks in such a way that even the rest of the minions cannot understand him. Otto, as expected, did not bring the treasure to the house, having spilled it along the way, they continue to hunt Gru, but then the guy found out that Wild Knuckles, it turns out, was still alive and is now going to confront his former accomplices. And he needs all the help. Even coming from a twelve year old kid who wants to be a villain.
As you know, the animated film “Despicable Me”, as well as the subsequent franchise, until then a little-known American studio llumination Entertainment, founded, by the way, in 2007 (“Despicable Me” they released in 2010), quickly brought to the level of the largest animation studios.
What influenced the success of the franchise? Firstly, the “great villain” Gru turned out to be a kind and handsome man, and secondly, for this film, Illumination invented Gru’s assistants, whom they called “minions”, and these minions are just a godsend! Because these strange little yellow characters in “canned” glasses and matching overalls, speaking a mixture of English, Spanish, French, Italian and Indonesian, turned out to be so original and funny that just everyone fell in love with the minions, and the sale of the studio’s toy minion characters brings almost more than the films of the franchise.
“Despicable Me” with a relatively small budget of $ 69 million raised more than half a billion around the world (the sequel even raised almost a billion), and a separate spin-off with the history of minions, which everyone predicted a failure, because examples of similar spin-offs with the penguins of Madagascar or with Puss in Boots they show that this is an unsuccessful undertaking, with a budget of $74 million, he collected “only” $1.16 billion – well, here, as they say, all the roads were already open in front of the studio.
The events in this film take place, which is quite understandable, before the first “Despicable Me”, but after the first “Minions”, where, as you know, the minions were looking for what kind of villains they would stumble upon. That is, this is the fifth film in the franchise, because Despicable Me had two sequels.
The original name of the picture is Minions: The Rise of Gru, that is, “Minions: the rise of Gru”. Why the film was called “Minions: Gruvitation” in the Russian version – I do not know, but I have long vowed to explain the efforts of Russian distributors, because this occupation is completely hopeless. Some kind of phenomenal beautiful person came up with the word “gruvitation” – gee, Beavis, did you hear?! – that’s what they put in the name.
I love all three Despicable Me films, I also liked the standalone film Minions, and I was so interested in what they would do with the rise of Gru that I even went to the premiere, which took place in Spain on July 1, 2022. True, I had to watch in Spanish, but in Spain dubbing of foreign films is usually very high quality.
So what did they get out of all this? And it turned out, in my opinion, very nice and funny. They crossed solo minions with young Gru: now Gru is looking for the origins of his future villainy, helping Wild Knuckles, betrayed by his team, and the minions touchingly help little Gru, on the one hand, traditionally filling up everything that they were entrusted with, but, on the other hand, for due to his “cuteness” still managing to fix his own fakap. (However, here the creators of the picture did not hesitate to borrow the same “cuteness” from Shrek.)
Young Gru is funny, yes. Nothing special, but funny. The minions are still very cool: in addition to the already familiar Kevin, Stuart and Bob, they have a new minion Otto there with braces on his teeth, indistinguishable speech and a willingness to please absolutely everyone, even if he destroys everything around.
“Evil Six” is good, first of all, by the cool Belle Bottom, who is the main ringleader there, and the rest of the characters rather create a certain background. Except that Battle Nun Nan-Chak, with her angelic ascension from the battlefield, stood out in some way. But – yes, the voice actors were chosen to be iconic, although, of course, I have not yet been able to appreciate how it sounded in the original.
The character of the retired leader Wild Knuckles is done very well: he has a lot of screen time here, and the plot mostly revolves around his partnership with Gru. Well done and I’ll definitely listen to Alan Arkin voicing Knuckles again, it should be very interesting.
A separate storyline is the story of how Master Chow (voiced by Michelle Yeoh) taught three minions the secrets of martial arts. With this, too, there were many although predictable, but nevertheless nice episodes.
What else? A lot of really funny jokes, well drawn, chicly styled seventies, San Francisco of those times is coolly shown, relevant hits are expertly selected – all this looks dynamic, fun, spectacular and funny.
Are some critics already writing that the film has a lightweight plot and no clear morality? Yes, you go to the buoy with your morals and heavy plots, I will say to these critics! This is a very easy to understand, funny and unobtrusive film, which is made for the entertainment of the most respectable audience, and it entertains this most respectable audience of various ages: from very young to mature and extremely experienced (here, of course, I’m talking about myself).
Nicely done, well done guys! And watch with the whole family!
PS It was interesting to watch this picture at the premiere: the hall was full, among the audience there were mostly families with children from six years old, the audience reacted very vividly to everything, and at the end everyone applauded, and our family applauded as well.
Minions: The Rise of Gru
Director: Kyle Balda, Brad Ableson, Jonathan del Val Cast: Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin, Alan Arkin, Taraji P Henson, Michelle Yeoh, Julie Andrews, Russell Brand, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo
Animation, USA, 2022, 87 min.