“Minions: The Rise of Gru” is a Despicable Cash Grab


Photo courtesy Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures

Kyle Gerstel, Staff Writer

On July 1, Universal Pictures released “Minions: The Rise of Gru” (2022), the second motion picture to chronicle the events leading up to “Despicable Me” (2010). Oddly enough, “Rise of Gru” has become a hit among teenagers, with some fans (referred to as #GentleMinions) going so far as to wear formal attire to screenings. Although the film is more stimulating than its witless predecessor “Minions” (2015), it relies too heavily on tired gags and a cliché emotional arc.

The beginning of the film follows young Gru as he attempts acts of villainy without the resources to do so, setting up a series of delightful antics referencing notable moments throughout the franchise. This sequence is surprisingly enjoyable regardless of viewers’ age and sophistication, but the quality of humor rapidly descends.

Prior to “Rise of Gru,” the “Despicable Me” films existed in a similar universe to our own other than the villains’ ridiculous means to wreak havoc. By heightening the absurdity of a single variable, the stories were silly but fun. However, “Rise of Gru” destroys the franchise’s brilliant worldbuilding by introducing a fantastical element out of nowhere during the film’s climax.

Another one of the best attributes of the original “Despicable Me” is its genuine sweetness. “Rise of Gru” claims to be about the importance of teamwork, but the message is uninspired and doesn’t quite fit with the plot. It almost seems that the filmmakers tried to manufacture a heartfelt core during production rather than centering the screenplay around anything meaningful.

Some films are admittedly more challenging to watch than others, but even mindless family entertainment requires strong writing to have a powerful comic and/or emotional effect. However, “Rise of Gru” appears to be scrapped together as an excuse to give the world more of the yellow rascals moviegoers have historically flocked to see.

While “Rise of Gru” was never intended to compete with cinematic masterpieces such as “Casablanca,” “The Social Network” and “Ted,” its gleefully poor execution illustrates how capitalism has corrupted what can pass as family entertainment.