DIRECTOR: Kyle Balda

CAST: Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin, Taraji P. Henson, Michelle Yeoh, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Alan Arkin, RZA

RUNNING TIME: 88 mins

CERTIFICATE: U

BASICALLY…: The Minions assist a young Gru (Carell) when he runs afoul of a league of supervillains…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

They’re loud, obnoxious, and some of the most annoying creatures to have ever existed… and I’m not talking about the Minions, but instead the schoolkids I had the unfortunate opportunity to watch Minions: The Rise of Gru with.

Picture the scene: it’s half-two on a Friday afternoon, with most kids still in school, right? Apparently not, for my screening was absolutely packed with Year 7s still in their school uniform (most likely having bunked off school), whose mission was to apparently scream and cheer at every aspect of this early afternoon showing of the movie, like it’s the newest Marvel blockbuster. Literally every single time a Minion would pop up on screen, the auditorium was deafened by the unfathomably loud sound of cheering pre-teens, so much so that entire sentences of dialogue would be drowned out, and they JUST. WOULDN’T. STOP. Never before had I had such a problem with an audience of children – and for Minions: The Rise of Gru, of all things – and it got to a point where I had to leave the cinema, and head on over to another local one where there’s surely a less likely turnout of out-of-control 11-12 year olds. The thing is, that other viewing had the same problem – a packed screen with kids in their school uniforms who would yell and cheer at every little thing about this movie – but was somehow still more tolerable (albeit slightly) than the last one, which didn’t make the experience that much better but at least easier to stomach.

All of this for a movie that is, at the end of the day, simply okay. Minions: The Rise of Gru is pretty much what you’d expect out of a film starring the Minions by this point, and is very unlikely to sway your opinion if you’re already not much of a fan, but if you are then it’ll give you all the fast-paced silliness that the Despicable Me franchise has become world-renowned for. Personally, it was completely decent to watch, but the audience around me made it so much harder to sit through (no fault of the movie itself, by the way).

Taking place in 1976, the film follows the antics of a young Felonious Gru (Steve Carell) and, of course, his newly-hired army of yellow Minions (all voiced by Pierre Coffin) as he terrorises the town with his villainous acts, such as unleashing a fart bomb at a screening of Jaws. One day, Gru receives an invitation to join a famed supervillain group called the Vicious 6, led by Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson) and featuring members such Jean-Clawed (Jean-Claude Van Damme), Svengeance (Dolph Lundgren), and a nun named Nunchuck (Lucy Lawless), but when the group denies his application on account of him being a child, Gru retaliates by stealing from them a prized amulet with mysterious powers. When the amulet is misplaced by one of the Minions, and with not only the Vicious 6 on to Gru but also their ousted leader Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin) who kidnaps the young villain, Minion trio Kevin, Stuart and Bob must race to San Francisco and save their “mini-boss” before it’s too late.

As with most films in this particular franchise, including the previous standalone Minions movie, plot really is secondary to an onslaught of fast-placed slapstick gags involving those yellow creatures. The gags certainly range from juvenile (lots of butt shots, and more than a few fart jokes) to genuinely being on the same level as a classic Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry cartoon, and your tolerance for all of them will depend on whether or not you still find them amusing. For me, the Minions have never been too annoying, and when they deliver a gag that lands, it almost always results in some gleeful giggling on my end. At the same time, though, I absolutely understand why somebody else might cringe at just the sight of them, because some of their schtick from the gibberish language to the endless physical violence may get tiresome, especially to those who may have been forced to play the past movies on repeat for their own young ones. There’s just enough of this movie to enjoy with the rate of gags being flung at you, and the fast-paced slapstick which, when done well, can get some solid laughs.

However, the movie does very quickly become incredibly busy, to a point where it’s almost difficult to make out where exactly we are in the main storyline (though there is a chance that’s because my audience was so loud that I may have missed certain things). While the fast pace does help some of the gags land, it also jumbles together so much stuff that you’ll have no idea where to pinpoint things: the film’s climax comes around very suddenly, with almost no build up because it’s been too preoccupied with delivering one joke after another with the Minions, while most of the character development is rushed to a point where we barely know who most of them actually are, aside from what role they play in this loose narrative. It is an overly hyperactive movie, like somebody gave it a ton of sugar and then filmed it just bouncing off the walls left and right, which can make it a little hard to keep up with – and again, all of this to describe Minions: The Rise of Gru, which by definition shouldn’t be so difficult to decipher.

Like I said, though, it is what it is: a harmless and inoffensive cartoon that is there to entertain children (and a few keen adults) with endless amounts of slapstick and silly characters who are still endearing despite the madness around them. It’s far from a game-changer in the animation world, but then again no Despicable Me movie – or indeed any Illumination movie – has ever set out to be the next Pixar offering, so why should this one be any different?

Word of advice, though: if you have to see this in a cinema, make sure that it’s a much quieter screening, with less chance of skiving schoolkids coming in and ruining it for everyone else.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Minions: The Rise of Gru is another harmless entry in the Despicable Me franchise, with plenty of fast-paced slapstick to entertain children and even give some adults a case of the giggles, but it does become overly busy and hyperactive which can make it hard to even decipher its very loose plot amidst so much else going on around it.

Minions: The Rise of Gru is now showing in cinemas nationwide – click here to find a screening near you!

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