While some might fear this blockbuster cartoon could be a cash-grab offering sleep-deprived parents chance for a quick nap, there’s a reason why musicians like St. Vincent, Phoebe Bridgers and Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker agreed to work on the soundtrack. The movie’s gothic acid-trip aesthetic provides an umbrella for some genuinely weird shenanigans. Quick translation: Minions 2 is frequently glorious.
The first Minions film ended with a pre-pubescent Gru making off with the Queen’s crown, thereby earning the undying love of Kevin et al, who, as a species, are incapable of resisting the badly behaved.
It’s now 1976 and our anti-hero (as ever, voiced by Steve Carell) is an 11-year-old schoolboy. His tiny, rarely intelligible, yellow lackeys – including new character, Otto – have over-run the boy’s suburban, Californian home, much to the disgust of Gru’s mother, Marlena (Julie Andrews), who’s as undermining as ever.
All Gru wants to do is join The Vicious 6 but he ends up becoming a target for both the gang and its sworn enemy Knuckles. The big revelation is that Gru, when in the presence of savage and rule-flouting adults, is as cravenly idolatrous as the minions.
The animation is staggeringly visceral (an implacably venomous snake made my inner child shudder), while the vocal work is outstanding. Aside from the legendary Pierre Coffin, who does all the minions, 88-year-old Arkin is the best of the lot; it’s funniest role he’s done since Little Miss Sunshine.
Less impressive is Andrews, who fails to disguise her English accent (unless Marlena is meant to be an undercover British spy, pretending to be an Eastern European matriarch, in which case, hats off to Julie!). Also not so good: having the minions widen their eyes when in pleading mode, a trick borrowed from the character Puss in Boots and first used in Shrek 2.
The Rise of Gru isn’t as original as Despicable Me. Then again, the new film easily outshines the second and third instalments of the series. Felonious Gru needed room to breathe and rewinding to his past was an inspired move. Praise be. Gru’s got his mojo back and his too-cool-for-school minions are more appealing than ever.
Minions: The Rise of Gru is available to view in cinemas from July 1. 90mins U