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Shortly following the events of its 2015 predecessor, which was set in the late 1960s, The Rise of Gru chronicles the events that allowed its titular hero (even in kid form, he's voiced by Steve Carell) to become one of the world's biggest super-villains in Despicable Me.
Playing more like a fun short film than an actual trailer, the first footage finds a nervous Gru applying for membership in the Vicious 6—a team of the world's most sinister bad guys. The lead interviewer, Belle Bottom (voiced by Taraji P. Henson), tells the 12-year-old hopeful to do something evil to impress them, so he steals a precious stone that seems to hold unspeakable value for the 6. Gru's plan goes awry when one of his Minions, Otto, trades the stone for a Pet Rock (yes, they really did exist).
Take a look below:
Watching the trailer, it's very exciting to see that the filmmakers have a firm understanding of the '70s time period in which the movie is set—from playing records backward to hear hidden messages, to the short-lived phenomenon known as Pet Rocks. The production even hired Jack Antonoff of Bleachers fame to curate a "killer" soundtrack of music from the decade.
Helmed by Kyle Balda (Despicable Me 3, Minions), Brad Ableson (The Simpsons), and Jonathan del Val (The Secret Life of Pets), the project also features the voice talents of Michelle Yeoh, RZA, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, and Alan Arkin.
Brand and Andrews voiced Dr. Nefario (the resident mad scientist in Gru's lab) and Marlena (Gru's self-absorbed mother) respectively in previous installments. Arkin plays White Knuckles, the Vicious 6's former leader (and a "legendary fighter"), who is kicked out of the organization. As such, the 6 begin to hold interviews to find his replacement. After he goes on the run from the "apex of evil," Gru turns to the exiled White Knuckles for help and guidance.
Van Damme (Jean Clawed), Lawless (Nunchuck), Lundgren (Svengeance), and Trejo (Stronghold) portray the rest of the Vicious 6 members. Yeoh's character is named Master Chow, "an acupuncturist with mad Kung Fu skills."
Released in the summer of 2015, the first Minions movie wasn't universally acclaimed by critics, but it did manage to bring in over $1.1 billion at the global box office. To date, it is the fifth highest-grossing animated film of all time behind four major Disney releases.
Also written by Balda, Minions: The Rise of Gru will get up to no good in theaters everywhere on Friday July 3.