The Despicable Me franchise honestly had a lot of potential early on with the success of the first film that sparked “It’s so Fluffy, I’m going to die” and minion memes that have made an impact on various social media platforms. Film companies, Illumination, and Universal Studios took full advantage of this feat by creating the Minions spin-off films and Despicable Me sequels. Six films into this huge franchise, however, the stories of Gru and his language-impaired yellow henchmen have started rolling downhill. The franchise however has still been hell-bent on delivering film after film with the latest being Minions: The Rise of Gru which we took the time to review here at This is Hype Ph.
Minions: Rise of Gru is set in the late 1970s with an 11-year-old Gru who is trying to find his place in the world of villainy. His dream of becoming one of the most feared and dastardly villains has a silver lining when he gets the opportunity to join the infamous criminal organization known as the Vicious 6. This opportunity is short-lived when he is immediately dismissed by the group’s leader — Belle Bottom. This prompts Gru to steal one of their most coveted prizes to date, a stone connected to the Chinese zodiac. This action opens the door for numerous antics and perilous journeys that Gru and his minions are sucked into which take them from New York City to San Francisco.
The film is the sequel to the spin-off prequel Minions (2015) and is also the fifth overall entry in the Despicable Me franchise. Minions: The Rise of Gru boasts a phenomenal cast of voice actors such as the return of Steve Carell as the titular character Gru, together with Taraji P. Henson, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, and Alan Arkin as members of the Vicious 6, and Michelle Yeoh as the Kung Fu master turned acupuncturist, Master Chow.
Minions Rise of Gru Review: Spoiler Warnings
The film’s story — or lack thereof — is pretty straightforward as it is. We will therefore keep our review of Minions The Rise of Gru similar in nature by limiting the discussion on the overall story, intended audience, and visual direction that the film sets to provide.
Humor Over Story
Let me begin by saying that this new Minions movie provides a lot of fun through the humor and goofy-natured spirits of its characters. There is admittedly something lovable about these weird yellow creatures that can bring about laughter and fun in the most unsuspecting manner. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes these slapstick punchlines work so effectively when it shouldn’t have to begin with. You just end up giggling and then eventually it turns to laugh-out-loud moments. This is a surprising turn for a film such as this which shouldn’t really work. To an extent, it does falter with some jokes landing flat in a hit-or-miss attempt to bring about humor in whatever way the film can try to muster — the point remains that it still does manage to land these comedic moments at times.
The light-hearted atmosphere of the film is what it truly brings to the table. I initially thought that it would just be a barrage of mindless humor — to an extent, this does occur — but as a whole, the film manages to create a fun and light atmosphere. It’s a film whose tone and mood are further directed by the fact that it doesn’t really strive for more than that. Despite having several films now in its arsenal, the Minions still manage to capture the attention of its viewers, and given the fact that the language spoken is just gibberish, there’s a lot of power in this film to bring about unexpected joy.
Fun is truly the name of the game for Minions: The Rise of Gru because for the most part that’s all it really brings story-wise. This is where the major pitfall of the film lies. It has no emotional weight despite its efforts in doing so. The story is as confusing and somewhat pointless as the yellow-colored titular characters. It goes around beating around the bush as it desperately aims to hook audiences further with an emotional storyline that lacks the power in the punches to truly make these scenes meaningful. The film strives to create the same effect that most Disney or Pixar films effortlessly accomplish but the execution for this film was sadly lackluster. The fun and humor at times even take away from the true direction of the film as it goes back and forth on a plot that doesn’t really seem to have a linear direction. It’s basically all over the place. When the story does finally land in its final stretch of the 90-minute film, it doesn’t really convey a story that was all that exciting, to begin with.
A Confused Film
This is the very root of all the confusion. The target audience is quite undeterminable. Is it for kids? Maybe. Is it for the casual adult viewer? I would say it depends. Minions: The Rise of Gru basically lacks the identity to solidify itself as a family film. There are moments that make it confusing as to whom the true demographic is of this movie as it brings in a myriad of seemingly forced references that span a variety of ages. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a 100% family film. It’s not that it’s inappropriate. The film is just, by all means, a confusing mess in terms of its direction.
This is just the very beginning of where the confusion kicks in. The title actually becomes very misleading as well. The film suggests that Minions: The Rise of Gru would be an origin story for the character. It doesn’t really encapsulate that premise. Instead, we focus on the prequel status of the film that dives deeper into the Minions themselves. Again they provide a lot of fun and joyful tone that uplifts the movie altogether but at one point or another, the excitement dwindles and reverts slowly into an overdose of gibberish and mindless jabs at comedy. I guess it would have been all the more bearable if it was 90 minutes of journeying with these characters alone and if there was more attention spent on building up the character of Gru as the title again implies.
We are treated to a ’70s-rich soundtrack that highlights and encapsulates the setting of the film which seems to suggest a targeted older audience as well. The choices of songs and even moments when the Minions “sing” them in a gibberish manner suggest the inclusion of an older audience. It does seem to paint the goal then of including a multitude of generations that would enjoy the film. This, therefore, makes Minions: The Rise of Gru a hit or miss kind of film depending on who views it — a very risky move if you ask me. It would therefore fall in the very definition of a polarizing movie altogether in terms of mere preference. Then again the choices that the film opts to take also fall in this very description of being a hit or miss.
Minions The Rise of Gru Review: Final Verdict
Minions: The Rise of Gru lacks the identity and story that could truly make the film worthwhile. It has a lot of elements that don’t really make it a stand-out film in its very enriched genre as an animated film — so much so due to the sheer amount of greats delivered this year alone. This film does however manage to provide enough humor and fun to create an overall light-hearted atmosphere once you look past the lack of story and topsy-turvy direction that it elicits. For some unexplainable reason you will leave get up off your seat and leave the cinema feeling pretty joyful and this is probably why the franchise is still going strong despite the somewhat mindless kind of film status that it is in.
Hype Meter: 6/10
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