Fascinating movie

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

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

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

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

It turns out, however, that the Minions still have a few surprises. “Minions: The Rise of Gru” is a surprisingly charming entry in the series, balancing silliness with genuine sweetness. The budding young supervillain Gru is back, and his first team-up with the Minions offers both mayhem and heart. All together they make for one of the best films this series has seen since the original.

The film follows 11-year-old Gru’s first attempts to establish himself as a supervillain. Part of that is several run-ins with the Villainous Six, a group of adult supervillains 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, especially as a supervillain. He’s far from actually evil — most of his hijinks are a naughty kid’s fantasy — but the mayhem is a ton of fun. It fits perfectly with the barely-leashed mayhem of the Minions, giving it just enough focus to be more interesting.

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

The film’s structure is more cohesive than “Minions”, splitting into three different plot threads that come together at the end of the film. While it can get a bit distracting 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 a little more often than usual. I burst out laughing at a handful of gags, especially a surreal game on a plane, and smiled at more of them. There were far too many Minion butts throughout the movie, but it’s a familiar hazard for this series. After all, kids will always appreciate a good butt prank.

Ultimately, the movie is still made for kids (or adults with a healthy dose of the 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 surprisingly puts it on the right side.

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

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning film critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or email her at [email protected].