Those adorably nutty Minions are back, this time accompanied by a tween Gru for a fast-paced 1970s-set adventure that’s splintered over several plot threads. The fragmented approach makes it difficult to properly engage with anything that happens, and many characters fall through the cracks simply because they get so little time on-screen. But the animation is bright and inventive, and the hilariously freewheeling tone will keep both adults and children giggling helplessly.
Everything centres this time around young Gru (Carell), who at 11 and three-quarters is determined to take his place on the Vicious Six team of supervillains, now that his idol Wild Knuckles (Arkin) has mysteriously vanished. But when leader Belle Bottom (Henson) dismisses Gru as merely a child, he steals a magical stone that she intended to use to take over the world on Chinese New Year.
This sends events spiralling in various directions, as clumsy minion Otto loses the stone and goes on a quest to find it, while faithful minion sidekicks Kevin, Stuart and Bob have their own escapade trying to protect Gru by taking some kung fu training from Master Chow (Yeoh). Meanwhile, Wild Knuckles and the Vicious Six are all chasing Gru.
All of this plays out with maximum slapstick goofiness, as the relentlessly endearing Minions (all voiced by Coffin) get up to various mischievous antics. The film is a riot of sight gags, running jokes, songs and movie references from the 1970s, plus plenty of mildly rude humour aimed directly at youngsters and the young at heart.
The generally absurd tone is augmented by the Minions amusing gibberish dialect, which is especially enjoyable when they perform a pop song. Thankfully, the preteen Gru is likeably naughty, so the fact that the film is more centred on him than the Minions isn’t too much of a problem. Older audiences might prefer a bit more focus and coherence, but even the grumpiest viewer will find it difficult not to have a lot of fun with this ridiculous adventure.
Is Minions: The Rise of Gru suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
While everything is played in the silliest way possible, it’s also hard to escape the fact that Gru is kidnapped and tortured not once, but twice. That said, the danger is never nasty, and he doesn’t get hurt.
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