In the 1970s, Gru (Steve Carell) was only 12 years old, but he already had the ambition of being the best villain in the world. He was a big fan of the super-villain organization called the Vicious 6 and longed to be a member of that group someday. Kevin (the tall one), Stuart (the single-eyed one), Bob (the adorable one), Otto (a new minion with braces) and the rest of Minions (all voiced by Phil Coffin) lived with Gru and supported him in this ambition.
One day, disgruntled Vicious 6 members Belle Bottom (Taraji B. Henson), Jean Clawed (Jean Claude Van Damme), Nunchuck (Lucy Lawless), Svengeance (Dolph Lundgren) and Stronghold (Danny Trejo) overthrew their founder and leader Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin). Little Gru went to apply to fill the vacancy, but ended up getting on the wrong side of the Vicious 6 when he stole a precious powerful Chinese amulet of theirs.
Being delightfully cute and yellow, it was understandable how the Minions stole the scenes from under Gru in the "Despicable Me" films. But as I have mentioned in my past reviews of this franchise, I have not really been a big fan of the Minions on their own. Actually, at this point, 5 years after the last "Despicable Me" film and 7 years after the first "Minions" solo spinoff film, I was not even sure if they are still that much of a big thing nowadays.
However upon watching this film in an IMAX Theater full of small kids, I now confirm that these little yellow rascals with gibberish language still had what it takes to have this new kindergarten set in awe. The roller-coaster streets of San Francisco and its cable cars, the hip psychedelic 70s fashion worn and the inventive re-imagining of the Chinese Zodiac animals made for a very colorful and vibrant artwork, even for the most hyperactive of tykes.
Despite its unmistakable kiddie appeal, it was just right that this was rated PG. Practically everyone -- the Vicious 6, Gru, and yes, even the Minions -- were all scheming and doing villainy things all the way to the end. (Only the kung-fu master Chow voiced by Michelle Yeoh could be considered positive.)
This inherent anti-hero concept and its ironic sense of morality may not be correctly grasped by very young minds, and requires parental guidance.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."