By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Minions meet their master in ‘Rise of Gru’
This image released by Universal Pictures shows characters, from left, Stuart, Gru, voiced by Steve Carell, Bob and Kevin in a scene from “Minions: The Rise of Gru.”

For me, the “Despicable Me” series has had a hit-or-miss track record. The first two movies were clever and fun, but the third movie, as well as the first “Minions” spinoff, didn’t have enough ingredients to justify their existence. However, the most recent sequel learns from its mistakes and proves to have enough to warrant another entry.

“The Rise of Gru” takes place in 1976 after the Minions have embraced little Gru (Steve Carell) as their new master. As an 11-year-old, Gru’s ambition is to one day be the greatest supervillain in the world.

Gru gets an invitation to audition for an organization called the Vicious Six, led by Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin) and his team of dastardly cohorts: Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson), Jean Clawed (Jean-Claude Van Damme), Nunchuck (Lucy Lawless), Svengeance (Dolph Lundgren) and Stronghold (Danny Trejo).

Gru tries to impress the group by stealing a stone that can turn anyone into the animals of the Chinese New Year, but he lands in hot water when his plans go askew.

The Minions (Pierre Coffin) have to come to the rescue and, in typical fashion, their plans involve incomprehensible gibberish and a lot of incompetence that provides laughs. Some of their best moments involve undergoing martial arts training by an acupuncturist (Michelle Yeoh).

I’m not sure if the Minions were exactly clamoring for their own series, but based on the success of “Despicable Me,” that’s where we are. I observed in my review of the first “Minions” that their act gets old after about 15 minutes because, what else is there for these characters besides talking funny and being frantic for 90 minutes? Then again, I’m not exactly the target audience. This sequel, however, gives them more to do and also involves interactions with other characters, so their presence feels less irritating.

Kids will appreciate the zany antics and maybe some of the ‘70s pop culture references, though they’re about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the forehead.

The movie is energetic and looks good while providing just enough material to hold our interest. I’m not saying I want a “Minions 3,” but if we get one, I hope it learns from this movie and doesn’t steal away what’s made this franchise so unique.

Grade: B

(Rated PG for action, violence and rude humor.)

Sign up for our e-newsletters