Exploring Power & Perseverance with Minions: The Rise of Gru

The new Minions movie has much of the silliness you expect from the Despicable Me franchise.  We watch as young Gru works to realize his dream: becoming the head of an evil empire. But underneath the slapstick villain humor (which my children love), there is a heartfelt story that offers plenty of opportunities to explore spirituality.

Use one or more of these activities to discover and reflect on spiritual themes in the movie.

Teamwork: Every villain works better when they have others to help them. Gru’s team includes Dr. Nefarious, who is super smart, White Knuckles, who provides wisdom and guidance, and the Minions, who are loyal. Invite children to imagine creating a team to support their dreams. Brainstorm different character traits they want these team members to have. Suggest that children draw a picture of their imaginary team and share with you the signature traits of each member.

Perseverance: Both Gru and Otto are focused on achieving their goals, even when it is challenging. Gru feels his purpose is to become an evil mastermind and Otto wants to retrieve the medallion.  Explore the idea of spiritual goal setting with children. Ask each other: What is one spiritual goal you are working toward? (If you need help with setting spiritual goals, see the Related Resources.) Close your eyes and imagine the challenges you might face as you work toward your goals and how you might overcome them. Then share your imaginings with one another.

Inner Power: The minions decide to learn Kung Fu to help them defeat Gru’s captors. One of the many lessons they learn from their teacher is to trust their inner power. At the time, they could not create the powerful roar their teacher wanted, but when they were in trouble, they drew from their inner power to defeat the Vicious 6. Explore the idea of inner power with children. Ask: Where do you feel your inner power? How does your inner power sound? When you make the sound, how do you feel?

Dealing with Disappointment: Gru trusts Otto to bring the medallion home after stealing it from the Vicious 6. Instead, Otto trades the necklace for a pet rock. Gru is furious and tells the minions that they are fired and need to leave his lair. Wonder together about other ways Gru could have responded to Otto’s behavior. Invite children to act out the part of Gru while you pretend to be Otto and experiment with different outcomes in your playacting.

Stereotypes: During their initial interview, the Vicious 6 judge Gru’s skills based on his age. They assume he cannot be an evil mastermind because he is only 12. Explain what stereotypes are by saying something like, “Stereotypes are when we unfairly assume something about a group of people.” Ask: What stereotypes have you heard or seen used? (Examples: all girls like to play with dolls, boys should keep their feelings hidden, families should have a mother and a father.) Ask: How can stereotypes be harmful? What could we do to change hurtful stereotypes? Then pick one idea and follow through as a family or group.



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