The Minions 2: Once Upon a Time Gru was released in theaters on Wednesday. The film takes place in the 70’s. Discover all the references of the Illumination feature film.
7 years after the first film devoted to the solo adventures of the Minions, the famous yellow men are back in the cinema.
Minions 2: Once Upon a Time Gru takes place in 1976. Gru grows up in the suburbs surrounded by bell bottom jeans and flowery hair. He sets up a machiavellian plan to succeed in integrating a group of super villains, known as the Vicious 6.
He is assisted in his task by the Minions, his little companions as turbulent as they are faithful. They will deploy together treasures of ingenuity to build their first lair, experiment with their first weapons, and launch their first mission.
When the Vicious 6 fire their leader, the legendary Will Karnage, Gru auditions to join the team. The least we can say is that the interview turns sour when Gru demonstrates his superiority to them and suddenly finds himself their sworn enemy. Forced to flee, he will have no other choice but to turn to Will Karnage himself, in order to find a solution, a meeting which will allow him to discover that even super villains sometimes need friends.
Once Upon a Time Gru takes place in the 70s and is sprinkled with many references to seventies pop culture: be it cinema, music or clothing. The characters in the film have costumes and hairstyles typical of that era.
Director Kyle Balda further explains:I grew up in the 70s, it’s a very intimate period for me and so nostalgic: television, music, cars, haircuts, flare jeans, everything was a little psychedelic. Pop colors, glitter, disco…
It was a very rich period visually, that’s for sure. I was a child like Gru at that time, and it was very touching for me to dive back into old TV programs to find the music and fashion that would guide our inspiration..”
“My name is Bond, Minion Bond”
The Minions universe, always very colorful, blends perfectly with the psychedelic atmosphere that reigned in the 70s. From the opening credits, you are immersed in the heart of the hippie years. The opening of the film indeed refers to the credits of James Bond with the silhouettes of the Minions which stand out on the title bang bang by Nancy Sinatra.
The filmmaker comments: “JI watched a lot of James Bond at the time and I loved the opening scenes with the opening credits where silhouettes stood out in shadow to a Nancy Sinatra tune. We were totally inspired by these credits and we wanted the public to grasp from the first image that the film would be a true declaration of love for those years..”
This period of history was indeed a real gold mine for the creative team.
Another cinephile wink, Gru decides to go to the cinema to see Jaws of Steven Spielberg. Released in cinemas in June 1975, the film was prohibited for children under 12 years old. Gru, only 11 and a half years old, therefore cheats to be able to attend the screening of this film which has become a great classic.
Yellow Belt for Minions
But The Minions 2 especially gives pride of place to Kung-Fu films, which were all the rage at that time, even if it means being a little anachronistic…
The suit worn by the Minions during their fight against the Vicious 6 is indeed a reference to that of Bruce Lee in The Game of Death. Filmed in 1972, the film was not released until 1978 (following the sudden death of Bruce Lee in 1973, the film was completed by Robert Nail) i.e. 2 years after 1976, the year in which the action of Minions 2 is supposed to take place.
Besides the visual references, the feature film sees the Minions take martial arts lessons alongside an expert and fight against The Vicious 6 transformed into monsters thanks to a magical Chinese medallion.
Kyle Balda explains: “We watched lots of movies that made me happy at the time. The first one was The 36th Chamber of Shaolin by Lui Chia-Lang (1978) which was full of gadgets and which we reused in the film.
The biggest inspiration came from comical Kung-Fu films to which we pay a real tribute, especially films like The Chinese Master of the legendary Jackie Chan in 1978, as well as crazy kung fu of Stephen Chow in 2004 and of course Shaolin Soccerr in 2001.”
Illumination Studio President Chris Meledandri adds, “Thehe film is unlike anything you’ve seen before, and certainly not like any of the previous films in the franchise. And it’s totally on purpose. It is very important to us that each of our films be special, fresh and give the possibility of exploring new horizons each time.
And it’s not just in terms of character, storytelling, story, or humor. No, above all, the experience must be visceral, in terms of image or even sound. It is the work of the imagination of hundreds of artists who are totally devoted to their respective parts and are the driving force behind the creativity within the beautiful machinery that allows us to make films of such quality.“.
Diana Ross and the Minions
The action of the film is punctuated by a soundtrack concocted by Jack Antonoff. A true ode to the 70s, with disco tracks, soul classics and covers of some of the greatest hits of the time by contemporary artists.
With in particular the recovery of funkytown, the 1979 Lipps Inc. hit by St Vincent, Dance to the Music from Sly and The Family Stone in 1967 by HER, INow Karma!the 70’s version of John Lennon by the Bleachers, the hit Born to Be Alive by Patrick Hernandez by the Hong Kong rapper Jackson Wang or even Goodbye To Love of the Carpenters in 1972 by Phoebe Bridgers.
There are also covers of the titles bang bang by Nancy Sinatra, Fly Like an Eagle by Steve Miller Band or the cover of Cecilia from Simon & Garfunkel by the Minions themselves.
Note also the presence of Turn Up the Sunshinean unprecedented collaboration between the Queen of Disco Diana Ross and Australian psychedelic musician Tame Impala for the end credits of the feature film.
The music video “Turn Up the Sunshine”