The Movie Guru: “Minions: The Rise of Gru” a ton of fun

Grade: Three stars

“Minions: The Rise of Gru” has an anarchic charm that puts it surprisingly on the good side.
Universal/Courtesy photo

By this point in your life, you know exactly how you feel about the Minions.

This is the fifth movie for the little yellow creatures, not including the short films and endless number of members. If you hate them, no Minions movie in the world will change your mind. If you watched “Despicable Me 3” and are still fond of them, your patience is infinite.

It turns out, however, that the Minions still have a few surprises left. “Minions: The Rise of Gru” is an unexpectedly charming entry into the series, balancing the silliness with real sweetness. Budding young supervillain Gru is back, and his early team up with the Minions delivers both mayhem and heart. All together, they make one of the best movies this series has seen since the original.

The movie follows 11-year-old Gru’s early attempts to establish himself as a supervillain. Part of this is several run-ins with the Villainous Six, an adult supervillain group who he wants to impress. The Minions try to help, which often makes things worse and leads to a run-in with a kung fu master voiced by Michelle Yeoh.

Gru is a welcome return to the series, particularly as a supervillain. He’s nowhere close to actually being evil — most of his hijinks are a kid’s fantasy of naughtiness — but the mayhem is a ton of fun. It matches perfectly with the barely leashed chaos of the Minions, giving it just enough focus to be more interesting.

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He also brings the movie just the right amount of sweetness. Young Gru may yearn to commit crime, but he’s also desperately lonely. His desire to connect, and the lessons he learns balancing friendship and villainy, make for a surprisingly lovely message.

The movie’s structure is more coherent than “Minions,” splitting into three different plot threads that come back together at the end of the movie. Though it can get a little distracted at times, the larger goal of helping Gru is always evident. The Minions are great for laughs, but Gru is the heart of the movie.

The humor is about what you’d expect for a Minions movie, though the jokes seem to land slightly more often than usual. I laughed out loud a handful of gags, particularly a surreal set on an airplane, and smiled at more of them. There were far too many Minion butts throughout the movie, but that’s a familiar hazard for this series. After all, kids will always enjoy a good butt joke.

In the end, the movie is still designed for kids (or adults with a healthy dose of kid still in them.) But there are good kids’ movies and not-so-good kids’ movies, and it’s important to distinguish the two. “Minions: The Rise of Gru” has an anarchic charm that puts it surprisingly on the good side.

Who knows — it might even make you feel like a kid yourself.

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at

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