Tag Archives: ‘Minions’

Interview: ‘Despicable Me 3’ screenwriters Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio

Four years after his last big screen adventure, the former supervillain-turned-agent of good Gru is back with “Despicable Me 3,” the latest animated family comedy from acclaimed screenwriters Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio.

Together with Illumination Entertainment founder Chris Meledandri, the trio became a force to be reckoned with right out of the gate in 2010 with Illumination’s first film “Despicable Me.” The blockbuster hit told the unique story of how the adoption of three orphaned sisters softened the heart of the world’s most devious supervillain, Gru (voiced by Steve Carell). The success of the first film, of course, to the 2013 smash “Despicable Me 2,” where the Gru meets the love of his life with Lucy (voice of Kristen Wiig), an Anti-Villain League super-agent.

“We ultimately landed on the fact that these movies are ultimately about family,” Paul, along with Daurio, said in a phone conversation this week from Los Angeles. “Although I don’t think we’ll be ever able to touch the emotion of that first movie, because there’s something special about Gru becoming a dad and the girls changing his life. We feel like each movie we’re going to expand the family, and deal with the challenges of things like sibling rivalry, or in this film, Lucy becoming a stepmom. She’s so accomplished as an agent, but feeling so insecure about being a mom now.”

New in theaters Friday, “Despicable Me 3” finds Gru and Lucy in a quandary after they’re both fired by the AVL after failing to apprehend the notorious former ’80s child star-turned-supervillain Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) after he pulls off an elaborate heist. Out of work and going broke, Gru’s fortunes change when finds out he has a long, lost brother named Dru (also voiced by Carell), a very rich and successful pig farmer. Gru soon discovers, though, that Dru amassed his riches thanks to their dad, who, as it turns out was the world’s greatest supervillain in this time — and Dru wants his brother to get back into the game.

Paul and Daurio said the “Despicable Me” film series was never planned as a trilogy or even a franchise. In fact, their goal was just to get the first film made.

“We were hoping, ‘Maybe they’ll let us make another movie’ — not necessarily a sequel, but we were just hoping the company would get going and we would be on our way making films, never thinking this would become a franchise,” Daurio said. “We just thought, ‘This is this really a fantastic story about three little girls and this supervillain, and how they changed each other’s lives,’ and thought was going to end there.”

But once they were approached by Universal to create the first sequel, they realized that the first film had a theme that they could build upon in a meaningful way.

“When we met with Chris Meledandri about it, we realized, ‘Ah! Gru needs love.’ He found one kind of love by becoming a dad and now he needs another kind of love, so we found him romance with Lucy in the second film,” Paul said. “That was the same process with this third movie. While he has kids and while he has a wife, maybe there’s another kind of love that he hasn’t experienced yet, which would be sibling love — brotherly love.”

“Once the door opened to a sequel, everything became a possibility,” Daurio added. “Now it’s a lot easier for us to think of sequel ideas because we’ve seen how big the family can get and the opportunities we have for exploring the family dynamic.”

Universal Pictures

Also included in the “Despicable Me” family are Gru’s Minons, who, of course, got their own prequel movie last year. Like the possibilities with Gru’s story, Paul and Daurio said the opportunities for new and exciting Minion storylines are endless.

“One of the first ideas for this movie was that the Minions should go to prison. We thought that would be really fun,” Paul said with a laugh. “As writers, we just wanted to lock the Minions up for a little while. We just thought the Minions would play great in jail. That sequence is so much fun.”

While Paul and Daurio originally conceptualized the Minons on the page, they say the characters truly took shape, quite literally, under the auspices of director Pierre Coffin. The filmmaker, who has directed all three “Despicable Me” films and “Minions,” not only came up with the design of the yellow, pill-shaped henchmen, he also does all the voices for them.

Paul and Daurio said that for “Despicable Me 3,” Coffin was also pivotal in the shaping of the scene where the Minions inadvertently land in the middle of a singing competition, putting their unique brand of gibberish to work as only the characters can.

“That was an idea that Pierre came in with early in the process of making the film,” Daurio recalled. “He said, ‘I have this idea for a Minions scene and I can’t explain it to you, so I’m going to just show it to you’ — and he played us the Gilbert and Sullivan song you see performed in the film.”

Movie review: ‘Despicable Me 3’

“Despicable Me 3” (PG)

The evil genius-turned-anti-villain agent Gru is back with “Despicable Me 3,” an amusing sequel that despite its efforts, doesn’t quite live up to its predecessors.

This time around, Gru (voice of Steve Carell) and his super-spy wife, Lucy (Kristen Wiig), are tasked to catch a former ’80s child star-turned-super villain Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) — but when their efforts fall short, they’re fired from the Anti-Villain League.

Gru’s fortunes’ change, however, when a mysterious figure shows up at his house to tell him that he has a long lost brother named Dru (Carell again), a rich pig farmer who reveals to Gru that their father was also a super villain, and he wants his brother to get back into the business of evil villainy.

Hear Tim’s review of “Despicable Me 3” with Tom Barnard on KQRS.

While “Despicable Me 3” is loaded with laughs, the film feels like it doesn’t quite have the heart of the original. The element of the first “Despicable Me” that made it so grand was it’s unexpected emotional quality, where Gru took in three orphaned sisters wanting a new home. The whole family is back for “Despicable Me 3” and while they’re dealing with new, relatable issues, the narrative simply feels like it’s missing something.

If you’re hoping for more Minion madness with “Despicable Me 3” you’ll definitely get it, even though they don’t get nearly as much screen time as they did in their own prequel movie last year. The characters make the most out of every second they’re on screen, though, especially in the film’s laugh-out-loud hilarious scenes where the whole gaggle of Gru’s yellow, pill-shaped henchmen are rounded up and sent to prison, striped outfits and all.

Lammometer: 7 (out of 10)

Watch Tim’s review of “Despicable Me 3” with Adrienne Broadus on KARE 11.

Movie reviews: ‘Minons,’ ‘Self/less’

'Minions' (photo: Universal Pictures)

By Tim Lammers

“Minions” (PG) 3 1/2 stars (out of four)

Those yellow, pill-shaped henchmen are back with another healthy dose of laughter in  “Minions,” a clever, hilarious prequel to the “Despicable Me” movies. An origins story that traces the lovable characters’ long and winding road throughout time to finding their evil boss, Gru, “Minions” may not have the emotional bite that the first “Despicable Me” movie had, but like that original and its sequel, it’s still highly entertaining.

“Minions” starts at the very beginning, where oodles of yellow, cell organisms form into the Minions we know and love, only to emerge from the ocean during pre-historic times. Their sole purpose is to find and follow an evil boss, and they instantly find one with a T-Rex. Of course, being the bumbling Minions they are, things don’t fare well for the new leader, so the jibber-jabbering creatures wander through time and various, nefarious leaders, until they settle into some polar confines where they try to lead themselves.

Quickly becoming bored, three of the henchmen – Stuart, Kevin and Bob – head out to find new evil leadership, ending up in Orlando in 1968 at a convention of bad guys. It’s there that they stumble into serving the world’s first female supervillian, Scarlett Overkill (voice of Sandra Bullock), who makes a living making big heists with her high-tech gadgetry. Jetting over to England, Scarlett commands her new  trio to steal the crown of Queen Elizabeth, or meet a nasty fate.

Starting out as supporting players in “Despicable Me” in 2010, it became quickly apparent that the Minions would eventually merit their own movie, and as the marquee players, they don’t disappoint. Even though it’s hard to interpret nine-tenths of what they’re saying, you still get the gist of what they’re getting at, and even if you don’t, they’re a laugh-riot nonetheless. True, the film doesn’t have near the substance of its “Despicable” predecessors (what do you expect with characters obsessed with bananas?), but it really doesn’t matter. The operative word with this movie is fun, and there’s lots of it.

Coming in all different shapes and sizes (yet with the same ef

fervescent personalities), the Minions may very well be the best original characters the big screen has seen in the last decade. They have rare dual appeal that have the ability to make adults and kids crack up in equal measure. Amazingly co-director Pierre Coffin (who also co-directed the “Despicable Me” films) voices all the Minions, and despite the fact that their language is mostly unintelligible, he’s a head-and-shoulders above his fellow voice cast members, including Bullock, John Hamm, Allison Janney and Michael Keaton.

While “Minions” is a great movie for all audiences, it will especially will play well with baby boomers, as the film, set mostly in the late 1960s, has a smattering of classic tunes and pop culture references from the era. It’s a real blast from the past that will leave you wanting more. Make sure to stay to the very end of movie’s credits for a great scene that once again makes the best use of the film’s 3-D format.

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“Self/less” (PG-13) 3 stars (out of four)

Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley had their minds in the right place when signing on to do “Self/less,” a solid, thought-provoking sci-fi thriller about the consequences of transferring one’s consciousness into another person’s body. It’s not a completely original idea, yet thanks to the level of talent involved in front of and behind the camera, “Self/less” manages to rise above similarly-themed films.

Kingsley stars as Damian Hale, a building tycoon with terminal cancer who has six months to live at best. Rich beyond his wildest dreams yet a man filled with regret over the estranged relationship with his adult daughter (Michelle Dockery), Damian decides to undergo a radical procedure that would end his life, yet transfer his consciousness into a lab-grown adult body (Reynolds).

Given “anti-rejection” medication by the scientist (Matthew Goode) who performed the procedure, the now 35-year-old Damian has an episode of strange visions and flashbacks when he doesn’t take a pill on time, leading him to the shocking discovery of his new body’s origin – and a secret organization that will stop at nothing to keep their secrets from getting out.

Directed by Tarsem Singh (“Mirror Mirror,” “Immortals”), “Self/less” is visually stunning, and has a foreboding tone and great pacing until it’s third act, when the story begins to get a bit confusing and starts to feel too long.

The acting, however, is terrific throughout, especially by Kingsley (who is, unfortunately in the film 15 minutes at best) and Goode, who brings the perfect air of mystery to the scientist who heads the mind-bending procedure. Reynolds, who doesn’t get enough credit as a dramatic actor, aptly fits the bill in the lead, and throws in some fancy fight moves, to boot. “Self/less” is not a perfect film, but there are enough twists, turns and exciting action sequences to keep your brain occupied for the film’s nearly-two hour run time.

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