Movie review: Minions 2: The Rise Of Gru (PG)
The second in the Minions films series, which together form a prequel to the Despicable Me franchise (three films, 2010 to 2017), documents the first time the yellow creatures of the title meet Gru, the pre-teen who will become their master.
When an opening in an elite criminal group - the Vicious 6 (voiced by Alan Arkin, Taraji P. Henson, Jean-Claude Van Damme and others) - appears, a 12-year-old auditions. It is suburban kid Gru (Steve Carell), a scientific genius who dreams of becoming a supervillain. For extra help to pass the audition, the lonely outcast turns to the only beings who will do his bidding - the Minions.
Two reasons to watch the return of Kevin, Stuart, Bob and the rest of the gang:
1. The Minions, up to their ridiculous antics again
As characters, the Minions have one job: to behave like demonic toddlers. Their silly voices, unflagging optimism and eager rejection of logic made them the breakout characters of the first Despicable Me film.
Whatever you think of the Minions - some people find them adorable, others think they are creepy - they are a bold creation. The first film's co-directors, Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, could have taken the safe option and made them cuter. Instead, they chose to have them resemble giant single-celled amoebas. Maybe this was done because bean-shaped outlines are easier to animate.
Whatever the reason, these neckless, short-limbed beings are perfect for scenes where they throw themselves into harm's way at Gru's command. Their unconditional love for him adds a touch of pathos when they get maimed in the line of duty.
2. It never takes itself seriously
You will not get much story in a Despicable Me movie and maybe that is the point. You have to accept the world as it is - a cartoon 1970s, filled with American pop-culture reference points such as disco music, the craze known as "kung fu fighting" that they do "down in Chinatown", and the PG-rated jive talk of Henson's villainess Belle Bottom.
It is also a world where supervillains run wild, and have corporate addresses and fan clubs and none of it is explained. Every non-Minion joke is a grab at low-hanging fruit, in other words.
But the Minion bits, which see them fall, get blown up or squashed, with their little limbs flailing, are silent-comedy gold.