Minions: The Rise of Gru film review – This cheerful barrage of madness is far from Despicable


MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU

(U), 88mins

★★★☆☆

THERE’S a way to save money on expensive sweet treats at the cinema this weekend ­– just watch the latest Minions movie.

After a few minutes with the bright yellow creatures, you’ll feel as though you’ve hit the Pick & Mix hard and the E numbers are pumping through your brain.

There's a way to save money on expensive sweet treats at the cinema this weekend ­– just watch the latest Minions movie

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There’s a way to save money on expensive sweet treats at the cinema this weekend ­– just watch the latest Minions movieCredit: Alamy
When asked for her critique of the film, my 11-year-old niece, Eloisa, replied: 'The minions were so funny and cute . . . but there were too many chases'

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When asked for her critique of the film, my 11-year-old niece, Eloisa, replied: ‘The minions were so funny and cute . . . but there were too many chases’

Set in the 1970s, the madcap story is about the formative years of Despicable Me’s Gru (Steve Carell). He is a 12-year-old obsessed with one thing only — being a baddie.

‘FUNNY AND CUTE’

Gru spends all his time trying to join the Vicious 6, a group of supervillains who are auditioning for a new member.

While his uninterested mum (Julie Andrews) takes yoga classes, Gru applies for the gig, but is dismissed as merely a child.

So to show he can play with the big boys, Gru steals a magical amulet that he entrusts to a tubby Minion.

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That Minion quickly trades it for a rock with stick-on eyes he has a crush on.

The rest of the film is just as nonsensical, while having enough heart and comedy to keep you entertained.

When asked for her critique of the film, my 11-year-old niece, Eloisa, replied: “The minions were so funny and cute . . . but there were too many chases.”

And that there were. Chase after chase sequence, running from suburbia to San Francisco, with stop-offs to learn karate. There is so much running and hiding, you forget the reason for it.

In this, the sixth of the Minions franchise, we finally see how Gru met his Minions: They literally just turn up at his house one day and he lets them in.

Not the most creative backstory, but sometimes simplicity is best. And, as in all five films before, the yellow, gibbering, loyal creatures steal every scene.

For superfans, there’s a return of some old characters, including Doctor Nefario (Russell Brand), and a thoroughly enjoyable trip to a vinyl record shop for the grown-ups.

Directed by Kyle Balda and written by Brian Lynch and Matthew Fogel, it provides far more fun for the family than the other kid-friendly origin story out at the moment — the melancholy Lightyear.

This cheerful barrage of madness is far from Despicable.

NITRAM

(15), 112mins

★★★★☆

NITRAM isn’t just a powder keg, this young man is a lit fuse sitting on a rocket load of kerosene.

At any moment he is liable to react in a totally unpredictable manner that places anyone within punching or kicking distance in danger.

Nitram isn’t just a powder keg, this young man is a lit fuse sitting on a rocket load of kerosene.

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Nitram isn’t just a powder keg, this young man is a lit fuse sitting on a rocket load of kerosene.Credit: PA

The character is inspired by Martin Bryant, the worst mass shooter in Australia’s history. Bryant, currently serving 35 life sentences, murdered 35 people during a killing spree at Port Arthur in Tasmania in 1996.

While the name and some events have been changed, much of this account is true, such as his strange friendship with a lottery heiress called Helen Harvey.

There is something unsettling about movies that focus on a fame-obsessed killer rather than the victims.

But Nitram has a strong anti-gun message at a time when the United States is wrestling with the aftermath of another school shooting.

What really makes it a film worth heading out to see this weekend, though, is the incredible performances.

Neither X-Men star Caleb Landry Jones as Nitram nor Judy Davis as his emotionally detached mum give in to the temptation to make their characters likeable.

GRANT ROLLINGS

THE PRINCESS

(12A), 108mins

★★★☆☆

EVEN the most remote Amazonian tribes probably already know the general gist of this Princess Diana documentary.

She was a shy girl whose marriage to the heir to the throne didn’t go too well and was overwhelmed by the presence of the media, before she died in a car crash in Paris.

Even the most remote Amazonian tribes probably already know the general gist of this Princess Diana documentary

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Even the most remote Amazonian tribes probably already know the general gist of this Princess Diana documentaryCredit: PA

Director Ed Perkins’ film is about as revelatory as someone saying Kim Kardashian likes the camera.

When your subject is the most analysed British woman of the past century, a fresh angle is tricky.

Instead, the Oscar-nominated film-maker gives us a quality beginner’s guide to the People’s Princess.

Using only archive footage, he knits together Lady Diana Spencer’s transformation.

There is no single viewpoint, although it is clear that Perkins is sympathetic to the deceased icon.

His documentary is at its best when showing what the public thought about Di, with supermarket customers thrilled by the news of her pregnancy.

It’s at its most pointless when trotting out the images we’ve all seen a million times before.

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GRANT ROLLINGS

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