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Steve Carell and Pierre Coffin voice Gru and the Minions in "Minions: The Rise of Gru." Photo courtesy of IMDb.

REVIEW: Going bananas for ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’

Minions have found themselves to be the sources of great civil unrest since their introduction to cinema in 2010 with the release of the first film in the “Despicable Me” franchise. These peanut-esque beings have been shamed and disgraced for little reason since their introduction to the public, but with the release of the latest despicable installation, have risen to great distinction: on July 1, “Minions: The Rise of Gru” released in the United States, already becoming one of the highest-grossing films of the year.

Finally, we’re going bananas for minions, rather than rising against them.

In “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” we follow a young Gru, introduced in the first “Despicable Me” film, through his first major heist where he is assisted and ultimately saved by the multitude of minions he houses in his mother’s basement, which also serves as his first evil lair.

Though Gru may be the official lead, the real stars of the show are the scores of minions by his side. They prove to be endlessly loyal, even to their own detriment, sacrificing themselves time and time again for the unappreciative Gru.

Otto and Stuart are by far the most well developed of the minions, with Otto’s mistakes and resolutions guiding nearly the entire plot while Stuart’s social shortcomings draw a great deal of audience sympathy.

Lending his beautiful voice to the minions is Pierre Coffin, who has directed every prior film in the franchise (save this one, directed by Kyle Balda, Brad Abelson and Johnathan de Val). The first two films in the franchise were co-directed by Coffin and collaborator Chris Renaud, who worked together to create the enigmatic language of the minion species. The complexity of “Minionese” (sometimes known as “banana language”) is a wonder to behold, designed with Spanish, English, Tagalog and French influences.

Considering the importance of minions to the franchise, it may be a shock to learn that they were nowhere in the original pitch for the first film in the franchise, initially titled “Evil Me.” Through the long process of conception, though, we were blessed when Coffin created the  endlessly entertaining creatures that we so graciously receive today.

Looking beyond the technical genius behind the film’s direction, Brian Lynch and screenwriter Matthew Fogel’s story is heart wrenching, life changing and earth shattering. From Gru’s tragic loss of innocence at the hands of his mother, to the villainous heroes turned villainous villains in the Vicious 6, to the absolute determination of our small yellow heroes, our leading creatures take no rest as they venture toward the ultimate dream of what Gru believes to be injustice.

Gru’s misbehavior seems not to stem from a place of genuine malice, though, but rather a place of insecurity — he often falls back into habits of good without any realization of such. As we witness his character battle between ideals of malevolence and a genuine sense of morality, we learn that at the core of his character is a strong sense of loyalty, like that of his many minions.

“Minions: The Rise of Gru” is a cinematic masterpiece that anyone would be lucky to experience on the big screen.

Natalie Jude is the design director for the Daily Lobo. They can be reached on Twitter @Natalaroni or at

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