There are many things in this life that bring me joy, and Illumination’s “Despicable Me” franchise is one of them. From the first time I saw Steve Carrell’s Gru I was hooked, but it was his Minions that pushed it over the top for me. They have become so popular that the little yellow guys have worked themselves into their own adventures, and the second of their films “Minions: The Rise of Gru” has finally been unleashed to mass audiences everywhere.
Gru is still a young boy of just shy of twelve years old, but as was learned in their first feature film, he dreams of becoming the world’s most infamous villain. He idolizes a group known as the Vicious 6, and after they fire one of their members, Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin), Gru is called upon to interview to be Knuckles’ replacement. Once the other five realize he is just a boy, they cast him off only to find out he is a bit more devious than they assumed, and Gru goes on the run from them as the Stuart, Bob, and Kevin (all Pierre Coffin) to save him and claim the dangerous Zodiac Stone before the rest of the bad guys.
It is no secret that I am big fun of puns, and with names like Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson), Svengeance (Dolph Lundgren), Jean-Clawed (Jean Claude Van Damme, it makes sense in the movie), and Nun-Chuck (Lucy Lawless) you know I am already hooked. Even luckier for me, this is a great story that kept me involved the entire way through. Being technically the fifth film in the franchise that turns twelve this year it could be rightly thought that the stem could be starting to wane, but nothing could be further from the truth. This chapter in the story stands really well on its own while fans of the entire series will notice some nice Easter Eggs that both pay tribute to the others and foreshadow what is to come very nicely. There are also greats like Michelle Yeoh, Julie Andrews, Jimmy O. Yang, Russel Brand, Kevin Michael Richardson, Will Arnett, Danny Trejo, RZA, and Steve Coogan that round out this voice cast as well!
There is also a piece of this that I don’t refer to often in film reviews, but I feel like with this one it has to be discussed: the soundtrack. With the film taking place in 1976, there is a great mix of original versions and covers of films from that era that even had this old man and DJ bobbing his head and smiling through its quick eighty-four-minute runtime. This is one that I plan on purchasing and being in heavy rotation for a while; it’s THAT good.
This summer movie season seems to have more family-friendly fare than there has been in a while, but while “Minions: The Rise of Gru” could have gotten lost in the shuffle of a VERY crowded schedule, it is done well enough that it is full on worth the two-and-a-half years Universal has had us wait for it. I will definitely be adding this one to the rest of my Blu-Ray collection of its and other Illumination films proudly to watch over and over again!