By Angeline Wu
Minions: The Rise of Gru encapsulates the essence of peak cinema. The film industry has too long been overtaken by tyrannical live-action adaptations that prey on nostalgia. We can’t forget about those pesky superhero movies either. Oh boy, if I miss Spider-man: Coming Home to Homecoming, I might not understand the plot of Spider-man: Not Coming Home! After countless pieces of these industry plants, Minions: The Rise of Gru appears as our knight in shining armor, spoon-feeding an antidote to audience members worldwide.
Minions (2016) left us mad with questions. Cliffhanging movies was not a new sales tactic but consumers couldn’t get enough of those tiny yellow beans. Whilst in Minions (2016), we witnessed how our lovable yellow Tic Tacs met Gru; here, we see how their bond deepens. Unfortunately, my expectations were far too high. Their relationship can only be described as parasitic. The minions (namely, Otto) give their all to him but when it comes down to the “big leagues” Gru is ready to abandon them as fast as he can. Shrugging them off as if they didn’t make him who he is. But wait! Character redemptions are a true and fast way to save his character, isn’t it? This issue is never resolved. Though Gru is saved by the minions. He doesn’t show even a fraction of the appreciation and dedication that one usually has for the people who save their lives. His cold heart simply cannot do so. Instead, he opts to dedicate his faith to “Wild Knuckles.” One could argue that since the minions want to serve the worst of the bad, being mistreated is actually pleasurable for the minions. To this, I’d argue that they have served the worst of the worst: Napoleon (french), and even he was kinder to them. Minions are treated as steps for Gru to climb a staircase, and he doesn’t plan on sharing the top.
The plot was extremely unfollowable, we never really get the time to appreciate characters and get attached to them. When Gru was kidnapped, I felt no despair, he really only seemed like a greedy jerk. At times, the movie attempts to give the character redeeming qualities to make his character more round, to buy the audience’s sympathy. This fundamentally fails when we see him abusing the minions, undermining his entire worth as a character. I believe the whole shtick of Gru in every Despicable Me movie was that though he was a bad guy, he was a real softie at heart. We really only root for the minions in this movie. Their screen time did not satisfy that desire. There are too many characters and relationships and since the movie wants to dabble in every single one of them, we never feel the intimacy of any.
Also, canonically, Minions: The Rise of Gru is before Despicable Me in the timeline. In it, we see a fourth minion being added to the cast of main minions, Otto. He played a vital role in saving the world. However, in Despicable Me, there is no mention of him, not even a single frame dedicated to him. This leads me to believe that in between the movies, Otto suffered a head injury so severe that he found the value in self-worth, packed up his stuff, and left.
Minions: The Rise of Gru was just another cloud in this new dark age of cinema. There was no love and care spent on the movie and it did the bare minimum to top the charts at the box office. Overall, I’d recommend you pirate it. The minions “trend” began as a way to make fun of the movie, our generation's way of reacting to the absurdity of life; I don’t think many people realize the impact that it had on the box office. This movie has grossed more than a heinous seven hundred million dollars. To put it in perspective, Everything Everywhere All at Once only earned sixty million. Comedy is vital to the human experience and the human reaction to suffering. This does, however, bring up the question, was it right to promote this movie for the sake of comedy? Kantian ethics states that if universalizing a system would undermine its advantage, the action would not be ethical. If every bad movie had a mob of hype purchasing tickets for it; filmmakers wouldn't need to try anymore. Inauthenticity would dominate the film industry and cause more suffering to the world. So seeing the movie would be ultimately unethical. Sorry!