“Minions: The Rise of Gru” Utilizes Nostalgia To Entertain a New Audience

On July 1, the latest film in Illumination’s “Despicable Me” franchise, “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” premiered, sending shockwaves through the film industry. Achieving $217 million in domestic sales and a total box office revenue of roughly $1 billion, the movie has been named the chart-topping film since Frozen II, according to Forbes Magazine. Even outside of the U.S., the movie has earned over $400 million, making it one of the highest-grossing international movies of 2022 so far.

The target audience for “Rise of Gru” was ages 12 and under, but many older viewers also enjoyed the movie. A teenage trend increased ticket sales and skyrocketed the movie’s popularity. For the trend, groups of kids donned suits and flocked to the theaters, all while filming TikToks to the song “Rich Minion” by the artist Yeat.

Like its predecessors, the newest “Despicable Me” film employs a storyline brimming with youthful gags and comedy. People who have grown up watching the “Despicable Me” series can find a sense of nostalgia in the most recent installment.

Film critic Odie Henderson noted in a review that the film “makes me laugh and I’m not even remotely remorseful about that…[even though] I’m not six years old anymore.”

While “Despicable Me” and “Despicable Me 2” are set in ambiguous time periods, the latest film is set in 1976 in San Francisco, which has appealed to an olwder audience.

Henderson remarks: “Had I seen it that year, I would have laughed my six-year-old self silly and demanded to see it again and again.”

This fun-filled movie, featuring the classic yellow minions, is the second prequel of the “Despicable Me” franchise. The film expands on the relationship between Gru and the minions, picking up right after the first film in the prequel series, where young Gru has just partnered up with the minions.

Similar to the other “Despicable Me” films, a villain competes with the minions and their allies throughout the movie. “Minions: The Rise of Gru” introduces the audience to the Vicious 6, a group of six villains consisting of Belle Bottom, Svengeance, Jean Clawed, Stronghold, Nunchuck and Wild Knuckles. The leader of this group, Wild Knuckles, is betrayed by the other members of Vicious 6. Young Gru and his minions attempt to join the villains of the Vicious 6, but  Gru is rejected because of his youth. He then steals a valuable stone and finds himself the target of both Wild Knuckles and the rest of Vicious 6 as they compete to steal back the artifact. Alongside his trusty minions, Gru prepares for conflict with Master Chow, a former Kung Fu teacher who now runs an acupuncture clinic. Featuring an abundance of tumultuous and cartoonish fighting, the film is like any other stereotypical Illumination Entertainment movie with a villain versus hero plotline.

“Even if you can’t stand the Minions, you might find this one tolerable,” wrote Henderson in his review. “Especially if you’re old enough to get the 1976 jokes.”

“Minions: The Rise of Gru” can be seen as a complete spinoff of the original “Despicable Me” film. With the same plot structure and similar adolescent puns and jokes, “Minions: The Rise of Gru” may just be a way to keep Illumination Entertainment’s most successful series afloat by cycling out characters and introducing new dilemmas for the minions and Gru.