three minions, one small with giant pleading eyes
Courtesy Illumination

I’ve seen the phrase “aggressive adorability” used in relation to the Minions, the incoherent, yellow, denim-clad creatures who first appeared as Gru’s henchmen in the 2010 computer-animated film Despicable Me. They emerged as not just the film’s true stars but a cultural phenomenon, now semi-infamous for their representation in low-resolution memes shared by your aunt on Facebook and adorning every kind of merchandise available to purchase. I maintain that the Minions thrive in spite of such capitalistic opportunism, their guileless appeal enduring even into this sequel to their standalone 2015 film and the fifth film in the overall Despicable Me franchise. Where the first Minions presented the journey leading up to their union with aspiring super-villain Gru, this 70s-set follow-up chronicles the crew’s first big adventure as preteen Gru (voiced again by Steve Carell) endeavors to join a cadre of his supervillain heroes (voiced by Taraji P. Henson, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Danny Trejo, among others) in pursuit of a powerful ancient stone. Gru’s favorite villain and now-exiled member of the aforementioned gang, Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin), gets thrown into the mix, and so do a friendly biker (RZA) and a martial arts expert (Michelle Yeoh), who help the Minions save Gru after he’s kidnapped. Pierre Coffin continues to display superior voice-acting skills as all the Minions, outperforming even the shiniest stars on the cast list. Is this in any way, shape, or form defensible as meaningful art? Certainly not. Is it really cute? Yup. Aggressively so? Sure, but in our current political hellscape, there are certainly worse things to be affronted by. It’s also mercifully short. PG, 87 min.

Wide release in theaters