Minions: The Rise of Gru
Was I in a suit? No. Did I see this film in 4DX without truly understanding what 4DX is? Absolutely.
Here I am thinking “oh, maybe I’ll get a little water sprayed on me” and “oh, maybe a little wind or fog action.” What I actually received was a two-hour motion ride starting with the trailer to Thor: Love and Thunder. Almost lost a shoe. There wasn’t a seatbelt, but there I was getting thrown up in the air by an armed chair, punched in the back for reasons that did not match the action on the screen, and out of the blue getting blasted with wind from my headrest and leg rest. I took my parents to this - I don’t know if they can even recall the plotline, but it was by far the best movie theater experience of the year for me.
This cinematic masterpiece follows a child-sized 1970s Gru (Steve Carell) in his early quest to become the most fabulous supervillain - by joining the notorious Vicious 6. The Vicious 6 have kicked their former leader, Wild Knuckles (Gru’s favorite), to the curb and are taking evil applicants. Gru is confident as hell. No need for any more Minions - they’re fired. What high-league villain needs a good support system? Unfortunately, it turns out that he got to the interview stage by accident, and the Vicious 6 make fun of him (a 12-year-old with a combover) and tell him his supervillain dream is shit. To get back at them, Gru steals a medallion from the Vicious 6 which leads to a nationwide chase. Wild Knuckles kidnaps Gru to get the medallion, but things go awry when Wild Knuckles realizes Gru doesn’t have it - a Minion named Otto lost it. If the Minions can’t get Wild Knuckles the medallion in just a couple of days, Gru will be killed.
Kevin, Stuart (Capricorn), and Bob make their way to San Francisco to save Gru, getting trained by Master Chow (Michelle Yeoh) along the way. However, Gru strikes up a friendship with Wild Knuckles whose own minions have just abandoned him. The scene where Otto is tricycling across the country combined with the 4DX chair trying to launch me into the next dimension is now a core memory.
At this point, this franchise could run the well dry and I’d still show up to the theater. Something is very striking about this kid who wants to be a great supervillain also having a really big heart - it’s the same theme in every movie but it still hits. It’s hard for any follow-up movie to be as strong as the original Despicable Me, nor do I think this film matches the Pharrell-made and curated soundtracks of the originals. I didn’t necessarily find this script to be as strong either. There were quite a few funny beats (per the genre and style) and things went smoothly, but it’s easy to tell that they’re squeezing everything left out of this franchise. Clearly, the Minions TV show isn’t quite going in the direction of Lilo & Stitch: The Series popularity-wise. The Minion movies are the real cash cow for Universal Pictures.
Ultimately, I wish there was more Michelle Yeoh (I always wish there was more Michelle Yeoh). However, for the curated age range of appeal (The Secret Life of Pets crowd), I think the story offers a great time and a great message. For the actual range of appeal (gen-Z), I think that this is more about the group experience over anything else. It doesn’t matter what a Minion does, we will absolutely capitalistically invest in it.