Banana, 3.5 readers.
Very banana, indeed.
I gotta be honest, the last few installments of this franchise were rather lackluster, IMO. I found that sad because the original, about professional supervillain Gru who, with the assistance of his little yellow goofball minions, learns he has a heart of gold, despite being encrusted in an evil layer, is a pretty great flick.
Then you had Despicable Me 2 and 3 and Minions and eh, though they had their moments, they were by and large forgettable cash grabs.
And while this film is, as all films are, about sucking up more moolah, it does have the heart of the original.
It’s the 1970s and young Gru (Steve Carrell) dreams of becoming a great supervillain. By accident, he is invited to interview with evil villain group, the Vicious Six. Shenanigans ensue and low and behold, Little Gru ends up taking his favorite villain band on with the assistance of his all time favorite villain, Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin in perhaps the voice over role he was born to play).
Oh, and the little yellow schmucks are forever in the background, moving the story forward.
I could stop this review here, but I feel a need to comment on the whole Lightyear fiasco. I probably shouldn’t because I haven’t seen Lightyear but apparently, no one else did either (rimshot – too soon?)
All I can comment on is the Lightyear trailer seemed rather serious for a kid’s movie. Conservative commentators have been lambasting it as an example of “go woke, go broke” but I have a hunch Disney just went way too serious with this one. Buzz Lightyear, after all, is part of the Toy Story franchise. The running joke is that he is a very serious spaceman with a big ego who takes himself way too seriously and thus suffers big time mental anguish throughout the franchise as he comes to grips with the fact that he isn’t a super awesome astronaut but in fact, just a piece of plastic. His lasers are just little lights. His rockets are just easily lost plastic projectiles. He yearns to explore the greatest reaches of the galaxy but alas, just exists to chill in Andy’s toy box.
There was a Lightyear cartoon show that lampooned Buzz’s egotism and bumbling “I’m so awesome I don’t realize I accidentally trip over everything and luck my way into awesomeness” style and a modern day film that captured this style might have been better received. So going serious with a gritty, spaceman having to save the day with an interstellar twist where all his friends grow old while he goes on missions, eh. Too dark for this usually jovial character.
Compare it with this Minions movie that raked in boku cash while Lightyear tanked. From the opening scene where a young Gru clears out a sold out theater by detonating a fart gas bomb so he can get a better seat at a 1970s showing of Jaws (in a gas mask), you know this is a movie designed to make kids laugh, heck, to even make adults laugh.
I’m not saying there isn’t room for serious kids’ film. Frozen, for example, is a kids’ movie with serious themes that was done well and left room for silliness along the way.
All in all, this is me predicting that Dreamworks is on the way to eating Disney’s lunch if Disney keeps going on this serious, no room for fun path. Gru includes a preview for an upcoming Puss in Boots flick which also seems quite hysterical and as it plays up jokes about Puss having to break out of a horrible life of being one of a crazed cat lady’s hundreds of pets to resume a life of adventuring, you just get a sense that Dreamworks understands the first rule of a kids movie is make ’em laugh. No one at Disney seems to understand that these days.