At 12-years-old, Gru is already planning his world domination from his 1970s suburbia neighborhood basement with his trusty cohorts, the Minions. When Gru learns there is an opening in the infamous supervillain supergroup, the Vicious 6, the fanboy interviews for the spot but the supervillains dismiss the tween wannabe. Gru outsmarts the group by stealing a prized possession and the chase is on.

Steve Carell reprises the voice of a young Gru as does Russell Brand as Dr. Nefario and Julie Andrews as Gru’s mom. The Vicious 6 are voiced by Taraji P. Henson, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless, Alan Arkin, Danny Trejo and Dolph Lundgren. Michelle Yeoh also joins the cast not surprisingly as a martial arts expert.

THE RISE OF GRU also establishes how the Minions came into Gru’s service but I recall their first encounter was at the end of the MINIONS movie so that was the one thing that didn’t jive (keeping in the 70s vibe).

Per usual, Minions Kevin and Stuart steal many of the scenes. A martial arts master, Master Show (Yeoh) stumbles upon the trio, and takes them under her wing for training. In the meantime, Gru is on the run from the grown-up villains but he finds a mentor as well in the process.

Music plays a big part in RISE OF GRU as it did in the MINIONS movie. The Minions prequel boasted a great soundtrack of 60s classics while the current film carries the action with classic tunes from the disco era like “Funky Town,” songs by the Bee Gees and even some Ramones.

Another fun aspect in THE RISE OF GRU is the 70s wardrobe influenced by the disco era and the new workout craze. The Vicious 6’s outfits are the most fun with exaggerated looks.

Taraji P. Henson nails down the voice as the leader of the supervillains Belle Bottom with her commanding voice. Alan Arkin is Wild Knuckles, the old timer kicked out of the Vicious 6 who becomes Gru’s mentor, becomes an endearing character. The rest of the gang’s dialogue is limited but memorable as the muscle.

Directed by Kyle Balda, Brad Abieson and Jonathan del Val from a script by Matthew Fogel, MINIONS: RISE OF GRU sticks close to the formula that makes children and families enjoy this franchise. There’s plenty of laughs and adventure to keep the young and old entertained.

MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU is now playing in movie theaters.

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