Pierre Coffin, the longtime voice of Gru's diminutive and gibberish-speaking underlings across the Despicable Me franchise, has officially made his thoughts known on the "GentleMinions" trend, in which young people have curiously dressed to the nines for screenings of Minions: The Rise of Gru.
"Who could've expected it?" Coffin, who co-directed the first four movies in the hit Illumination series that has grossed over $4 billion worldwide, remarked during an interview with Empire for the magazine's September 2022 issue (now on sale). "I think it's awesome that the movie is seen and appreciated by an unexpected age group."
The unexpected cultural phenomenon first gained momentum on TikTok, where the #GentleMinions hashtag boasts over 200 million views as of this writing. Unfortunately, a collection of rotten bananas smeared the trend's good name by chucking bananas at the screen, which prompted theaters to ban any customers who dared to show up in suits.
"I think it’s great that people are participating in the trend in their own style and unique ways," Maryland-based teenager Obie (nigeriannightmare0 and obi_w4n on TikTok) told SYFY WIRE last month. "I just hope some wouldn’t ruin the fun for everyone by being a disturbance to other people, especially children attending the film."
Directed by Kyle Balda, Brad Ableson, and Jonathan del Val, Rise of Gru picks up in that grooviest of decades — the 1970s — when the eponymous young ne'er-do-well (once again voiced by Steve Carell) runs afoul of the world's greatest team of super-villains: the Vicious 6. Alan Arkin, Taraji P. Henson, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, Julie Andrews, Russell Brand, Michelle Yeoh, and RZA also lend their voices to the project.
Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri produced the feature alongside Janet Healy and Chris Renaud.
“The Despicable Me and Minions movies work because, while on one hand, they’re broad, funny and fun…there’s also an emotional resonance that runs through their center,” Chris Meledandri said in a statement. “They continue to resonate because of the characters. The Minions charm and delight audiences, and even though Gru is a villain, we still find him highly relatable and want him to succeed in any situation.”
“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,” adds 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.”
Minions: The Rise of Gru is currently playing in theaters everywhere and available to rent/purchase on digital platforms like YouTube Movies. To date, the animated sequel has brought in over $700 million at the global box office (the first movie is the fourth highest-grossing animated feature of all time with over $1 billion globally).