The Rise of Gru doesn’t give rise to anything new in the realm of minions.
Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022) Review By Mark McPherson
Published on March 16, 2023
Rating 2.5 /5
The second Minions movie comes about as advertised as one might expect from the popular animated franchise. As with nearly every animated film produced by Illumination Entertainment, The Rise of Gru continues to spin its wheels with the animated absurdity that doesn’t amount to much. While it’s a decent diversion of ridiculous gags, it’s a film that lacks anything more than routine slapstick, more or less becoming 90 minutes of the same gibberish jokes on repeat.
It’s all fitting that this prequel to Despicable Me and sequel to Minions is trapped in the past. The evil villain Gru (Steve Carell) is portrayed as a pint-sized kid of the 1970s, just starting to cut his teeth on being a bad guy. With the cute and yellow minions beside him, the young man decides to go all in on being a supervillain. Doing so isn’t easy, as his attempts at being accepted in a villain organization are constantly mocked. This leads to former villain Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin) becoming a mentor after he leaves his villain group amid a betrayal. With Gru’s more expert skills at thievery, the two work together to stop the group known as the Vicious 6 from taking control of an animal-morphing device, leading to a showdown of transformations.
While the film’s theme of friendship is okay, the bulk of the picture is devoted to more, aside from the minions, occupying arcs as small as their height. The stakes are much lower for the yellow monsters this time, finding themselves seeking to prove themselves as martial arts masters. After the three central minions get their butts kicked in Chinatown, Master Chow (Michelle Yeoh) trains them in martial arts. She’s an acupuncturist by trade but also conveniently knows kung-fu. This is more or less because it’s funny to watch an acupuncturist manipulate bodies into combat and for her being an unsuspecting warrior of such a small height. That’s enough of a premise for an animated short. But since this is a feature-length picture, several of these premises are piled into the picture.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t smirk and smile at a handful of these animated scenes. There are some solid comical moments, such as when one minion seeks to prove he can break a board with his forehead and uses another minion’s head as his blunt weapon. The more annoying parts of the film are when it falls back on easy and dated humor to carry the picture. The many years since Despicable Me have led to a much older following of Baby Boomers. Many of them will likely gravitate toward a picture that finds humor in the references of disco and songs of the era. The joke for most of these scenes is the mere citation, where the only funny thing about the minions singing 70s songs is that they do so in gibberish language.
The Rise of Gru doesn’t give rise to anything new in the realm of minions. It’s more of the same, but this time served up with a different decade flavor of the 1970s. So far, the franchise has tapped humor from the settings of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. This means that the next target for absurdity will be the 1990s, meaning we’ll probably get a gibberish version of Pump Up The Jam or something, loaded with all the same vignettes of simple slapstick.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.