Taking the franchise into new territory on multiple levels from going years down memory lane to spectacular action and humor, Minions: The Rise of Gru tracks how the Minions met their ultimate boss during his younger self as an aspiring villain. Being cautious as a young villain aspirant trying to get in the infamous supervillain group called the Vicious 6, Gru is at first resistant towards the Minions when they first met but eventually won him over with their hard work and irresistible charm. As a mini boss during their younger years, the Minions have fully supported all of Gru’s ideas and what he wants to become.
Setting the scene back in the 70s, the decade provided the filmmakers with a diamond-mine of music, fashion and pop-culture references to excavate. “I was about the same age that Gru is in our film when I grew up in the ’70s, so it’s very personal to me,” says director Kyle Balda. “The television, the music, the cars, the hairstyles, the bell bottoms—there was just a lot of flair to everything. And with the vibrant colors, the sparkles, disco—it was a visual decade, for sure, and very nostalgic to look back at this era for inspiration.”
One aspect of 1970s pop culture provided an opportunity to elevate the action in The Rise of Gru to a level never seen in any Illumination film before. “Another major reference and inspiration was kung fu films of the ’70s,” Balda says. “We scoured a lot of the movies that I enjoyed as a kid. Some of the sequences that we have in this movie are a tribute to that genre and the great work that’s been done in the likes of Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master and Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer.”
Minions: The Rise of Gru features the voices of Steve Carell as Gru, Taraji P. Henson as Belle Bottom, Lucy Lawless as Nunchuck, Dolph Lundgren as Svengeance, Danny Trejo as Stronghold, Jean-Claude Van Damme as Jean-Clawed, Michelle Yeoh as Master Chow, Russell Brand as the young Dr. Nefario and Oscar-winner Julie Andrews as Gru’s mom.
Over four films, beginning with 2010’s Despicable Me, Illumination’s Minions have become international icons of mischief, mayhem and joy. Minions: The Rise of Gru is the fifth film in a franchise that continues to thrill and delight audiences in every country and on continent and, consequently, has become the biggest animated global franchise in history, earning more than $3.7 billion worldwide.
A Universal Pictures and Illumination animated feature film, Minions: The Rise of Gru opens in cinemas nationwide on June 29.