Every little boy has a dream. And for Gru, it’s been to join the Vicious 6. They’re a band of super villains led by Wild Knuckles, Gru’s hero since he was 10. Now he’s 11 and three-quarters, and through a series of plot machinations, Gru’s in a position where he can join the Vicious 6 as Wild Knuckles’ replacement.

But Gru is no super villain yet; he’s still a frumpy little boy clad in black while the rest of the world wears tie-dye. Picking up where 2015’s Minions left off, Minions: The Rise of Gru finds Gru (voiced once again by Steve Carell) finding his super villain footing with help from his denim-clad yellow-hued hellions led by Kevin, Stuart, and Bob (all voiced by Pierre Coffin). Their target is the Zodiac Stone, which Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin) snagged from a temple of doom before a Vicious 6 double-cross left Knuckles for dead. Hence the vacancy, Gru’s application, the quest for the Zodiac Stone, and a little villainy mentorship courtesy Knuckles—a man impervious to death and impossible to beat in hand-to-hand combat.

The Vicious 6 minus one in Minions: The Rise of Gru. Images courtesy Universal Pictures.

Honestly, it’s all just set up for the gags. Running a manic 87 minutes Rise of Gru is one zany joke after the next, each complemented by a ’70s needle drops, each one better than the next. In one, a villain uses a massive record player and a buzz saw to spin another to death while Andrea True Connection’s “More, More, More” pulsates throughout the room. “If 48 hours of disco doesn’t kill you,” the villain cackles, “Then this saw will!” In another, Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good” provides the secret code Gru needs to access Vicious 6’s lair. In yet another, the Minions sing The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” in their unintelligible Spanish/French gibberish. 

It’s all a lot of fun. The plot is barebones, and the moments connecting this Despicable Me/Minions installment with previous entries are light, clever, and don’t disrupt the flow—which is relentless. These are not movies for the easily over-stimulated. Each frame is packed with vibrant colors and erratic movement. The characters are made of rubber, and the decibels they emit are just a tick under a siren. But the whole package is as infectious as the Minions’ devotions to Gru and Gru’s innocent infatuation with super-villainy. And if that doesn’t sell you, then Diana Ross and Tame Impala’s credit song “Turn Up the Sunshine” should. It’s a damn catchy song. Maybe even more so than Pharrell William’s “Happy.”

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022)
Directed by Kyle Balda, Brad Ableson, Jonathan del Val
Screenplay by Matthew Fogel
Story by Brian Lynch, Matthew Fogel
Produced by Janet Healy, Christopher Meledandri, Chris Renaud
Starring the vocal talents of Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin, Alan Arkin, Taraji P. Henson, Michelle Yeoh, Julie Andrews, Russell Brand
Universal Pictures, Rated PG, Running time 87 minutes, Opens July 1, 2022

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