‘Minions: Rise of Gru’ review: Nightmarish prequel, pure chaos

When the aliens finally invade, they’ll find the remains of our minion-based civilization and wonder what the heck happened here. After living through it, I couldn’t possibly explain how these hot-dog-shaped, banana-colored, gibberish-speaking overlords came to infiltrate our culture at every level, storming screens big and small, emblazoned on merchandise, and imprinted on inflatable statues that haunt our nightmares.

These inexplicable animated creatures’ access to cinema is insidious, and they continue their reign of terror in their latest cinema show, Minions: The Rise of Gru. They overthrew their champions in the Despicable Me franchise and wrested top bills from themselves. The Rise of Gru is just another Despicable Me movie, a supervillain origin story for the beak-nosed, scarf-wearing, evil aspirant Gru (Steve Carell).

Directed by Despicable Me 3 and Kyle Balda director Kyle Balda and written by Matthew Fogel and Brian Lynch, the film takes us back to the groovy 1970’s to understand Gru’s childhood as a young person who died the Vicious 6, a cadre of super villains, idolized . The filmmakers draw from a variety of 1970s genre films for aesthetic inspiration, including blaxploitation and martial arts films.

Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson) has the guise of ’70s superstar Pam Grier, while the Michelle Yeoh voice of Master Chow, a San Francisco Chinatown acupuncturist, serves as the kung fu guru for three of Gru’s Minion underlings. Alan Arkin voices villain Wild Knuckles, Gru’s idol, who ends up on the run with the Vicious 6. His tough ’70s looks and San Francisco’s hideout, a rickety Victorian mansion, are reminiscent of the 1974 cop rampage starring Arkin, “Freebie and the Bean,” or any number of films from that era starring Elliott Gould.

From left Kevin, Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) and Stuart in a scene "Minions: The Rise of Gru."

From left: Kevin, Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) and Stuart in a scene from Minions: The Rise of Gru.

(Illumination Entertainment / Universal Pictures)

Those references and the relentless onslaught of ’70s pindrops are fun to a point, but the film itself is 87 minutes of pure mayhem, a hallucinatory, cacophonous fever dream of nonsensical subplots and Minion gibberish. Gru attempts to join the Vicious 6, but when they reject his membership because he’s a kid (fair), he tries to prove himself by stealing a gold medallion confusingly named the “Zodiac Stone” (it’s not a stone). .

Three of his minions learn kung fu from Yeoh after hijacking a plane bound for San Francisco, while the chubby, braces-wearing minion ends up on an Easy Rider-style motorcycle road trip. Meanwhile, Gru gets his rogue training from Wild Knuckles so they can all go head-to-head with the rest of the Vicious 6 during the Godzilla-inspired climax. Along the way, Gru learns to appreciate working as a team and embraces his minions for the helpers they are.

Minions: The Rise of Gru has a stellar cast, but Lucy Lawless, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Julie Andrews could not have spent more than 10 minutes each in the recording booth for this film. They’re all Minions, all the time, and I suppose you have to salute Pierre Coffin, the French animator who directed the original Despicable Me and provided the voices for the Minions. Now there’s an origin story that might be more interesting — or at least more revealing — than The Rise of Gru, which is thankfully short, at least.

‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’

Valuation: PG, for some action/violence and rude humor

Duration: 1 hour, 27 minutes

To play: General release on July 1st

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-06-29/minions-rise-of-gru-prequel-1970s ‘Minions: Rise of Gru’ review: Nightmarish prequel, pure chaos

Sarah Ridley

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