I watched the cartoon “Minions: The Rise of Gru” (2022) and realized that it’s bad, but I want toyet. The continuation of the franchise, which should be scolded, but it turns out only to be praised. How so? About a week ago, a dispute about Pixar’s Buzz Lightyear cartoon came up in the Quora work chat. Some editors liked it a lot, others didn’t. Someone cited inconsistencies in the plot as an argument, others retorted that emotions and parallels with reality and pop culture are more important here.
And then comes the second part of “Minions”. I watch this cartoon and understand that there can be no such disputes about it in principle. Simply because in this case, the authors of the cartoon did not care at all about the elaboration of the plot, characters, graphics, logic … or anything at all.
Among the big-budget animated releases of the last couple of years, this one is literally the “laziest” in terms of production. And at the same time the most paradoxical.
But before talking about Gruvitation, I want to give some numbers. Illumination launched the Despicable Me franchise in 2010. The first part grossed about $500 million at the box office. The second is almost twice as much. The third has already crossed a billion. Spin-off “Minions” collected 1.1 billion, overtaking even the famous “Zootopia”.
Gruvitation has so far settled on $700 million. This is, of course, significantly less than previous cartoons. But it is clear that numerous transfers and generally difficult times played a role here.
But there is one caveat: Illumination has never spent more than $80 million on any part of this franchise. That is, on average, taking into account advertising costs, cartoons pay off about five times: with a total budget of about 350 million, Despicable Me and Minions collected more than 3.5 billion.
Even Disney and Pixar never dreamed of such figures. If only because they invest much more in their work: the same “Zootopia” cost about 150 million, and “Buzz Lightyear” – 200 million.
Here are some other statistics. The last time the cartoons of the Despicable Me franchise were nominated for an Oscar was in 2014. On the aggregators Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, the first part has the best rating (81% and 72 points, respectively). Further, they only fall – “Minions” and “Despicable Me 3” on Rotten Tomatoes even users have only 50% of positive reviews. On IMDB, the first cartoon also has the maximum score. And this is only 7.6, and not 8.6, like the “Secrets of Coco”.
So what happens: for 12 years now, all the critics and even many viewers say that Despicable Me is a mediocre franchise? She is given low marks and scolded in every possible way. But at the same time, everyone continues to watch it and bring money to cinemas.
Before watching the new cartoon, I tried to remember the essence and moral of the previous parts. In Despicable Me, the villain Gru wanted to steal the moon, but then it turned out that in fact the hero is not alien to compassion, and he wants to take care of foster girls.
In the second part, he already switched to the side of good (which deprived the name of any meaning) and, together with the super agent, prevented the creation of an army of evil minions, and at the same time fell in love. In the third, Gru suddenly had a twin brother, with whom they were looking for a diamond.
It is clear that Despicable Me is originally a parody of spy movies. But even for a comedy story, it’s too banal and flat. The creators just take the cliché and supposedly play it funny.
In the spin-off “Minions” … sorry, but does anyone even remember its plot? There, it seems, the precious stone was stolen again, the heroes got into trouble, but then they saved everyone. So right?
And now there was “Gruvitation” – the apotheosis of laziness of screenwriters. This is a cartoon in which everything happens just like that. The main idea is that young Gru wants to take the vacant seat in the “Villainous Six”. To do this, he comes to an interview and almost accidentally steals a magic stone (again a stone?) from them. And then one of the minions accidentally loses it.
Spoiler: then the same minion almost accidentally finds this stone. Meanwhile, Gru is hunted by all the villains. Including the old man who was kicked out of the team. He kidnaps Gru and threatens to kill him, but then, by coincidence, makes the teenager his assistant. And by the way, the main character for the entire cartoon will not commit a single villainy. And with real villains, he will meet only in the final.
And yes, the cartoon does not in vain continue the Minions, and not the Despicable Me. In fact, if Gru is thrown out of the plot (after the moment he stole the stone), nothing much will change. Little helpers create a problem and then solve it.
And such a mess the whole cartoon. If you think about the logic of what is happening, you can go crazy. She simply doesn’t exist.
Moreover, if you compare the new “Minions” with the first part, which was released seven years ago, you will not notice much difference in graphics. Illumination does not bother too much with the development of, for example, background characters (in the Grinch, this can be seen even brighter – literally all who are on the same face). And if you look at the villains, they all seem familiar: the characters seem to be drawn according to the patterns from the previous parts.
For a change, according to the tradition of prequels, the authors take the atmosphere of the seventies. But even references to pop culture, which everyone loves so much now, are thrown randomly: here’s a bit of disco for you, and here’s an action movie about martial arts. Separate parts of the cartoon do not fit together. It’s just a collection of scenes.
It turns out that in the new “Minions” there is literally nothing good, fresh and original.
Well, I think many readers are already angry enough at the stifling critic, and some, quite possibly, have already written a comment. But here’s what’s important…
Like thousands of other viewers, I love the Despicable Me franchise and look forward to every next cartoon. And you can analyze the shortcomings of the plot as much as you like, there is one truth: everyone loves minions.
Yes, these are perhaps the most underdeveloped secondary characters in history. In the end, they did not come up with their own name, but took a general term. They are all voiced by the same person!
But starting from the second part of Despicable Me, the rest of the characters can be easily removed from the plot. Everyone just wants to watch the antics of the minions. Remember the third cartoon: the only thing that is remembered from there is the line of little yellow hooligans, where they performed at the competition and ended up in prison.
Excerpts from full-length films and individual videos with minions diverge on the network. The video, where they sing a “banana” cover of Barbara Ann, has tens of millions of views.
But gifs and videos are a different story. The main secret of Illumination is that the studio was able to turn full-length cartoons into a set of such scenes. What does everyone remember from Despicable Me 2? The final song about the “underpants”.
In Gruvitation, you can swear at the main plot as much as you like. But the minions are making Gru’s hideout by singing a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s Cecilia. But the main character leaves the assistants, and they dance to a sad melody.
Kevin, Stuart and Bob fly the plane. Guru teaches them the same martial arts. Stupid Otto on a children’s bike rides through the desert. The cartoon is just full of gags in the style of old comedies.
Each of these moments immediately want to cut and send to friends. And the cartoon itself is just a “packaging” for these scenes, supplemented by some kind of formal plot. And it’s… just fun.
In theory, this post could be turned into a blast to a soulless studio that releases cartoons consisting of gags over and over again. But what I really see in Despicable Me and Minions is a sincere desire and, just as importantly, an ability to entertain viewers.
That is, the creators of the franchise did an amazing thing. They’ve taken what’s called comic relief, the characters needed to release the laughter, and turned them into protagonists. And this is where the main advantage of the franchise is revealed.
A couple of years ago I went to the movies to see short films by Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. It was very funny, but then I thought that in modern films all these slapsticks would no longer make me laugh. But “Minions” proves that even in the 21st century, people come to the cinema or turn on these cartoons at home to look at characters who just talk funny, run and fall. A sort of return to the classic buffoonery – honest and without any subtext.