The Rise of Gru is the most body positive film of the year

Big news: The Minions are back, baby!

The gibberish-speaking little fellows are notoriously divisive among adults, who perceive them as either a cute little distraction or a symbol of society’s downfall. But when it comes to kids, they can’t get enough. An amazing fact: Despicable Me is the highest-grossing animated franchise in history, having earned more than $3.5 billion across four films.

With each film grossing nearly $900 million on average, it shouldn’t come as a surprise Despicable Me is No. 5. Minions: The Rise of Gru is a prequel to the first Despicable Me Film exploring the origins of Gru’s villainy. As an aspiring supervillain, Gru (Steve Carell) is obsessed with the Vicious 6, a group of villains terrorizing the world, and wants nothing more than to be a part of the gang.

Well, this may shock you, but the jokes ensue, and Gru takes the all-powerful Zodiac Stone from the Vicious 6, which he entrusts to Otto, the newest member of the Minion clan, during a mad chase.

Otto is incredibly eager to please and deeply loyal; he would gladly go a thousand extra miles to please Gru. Deep down, like so many of us, he just wants to fit in – which makes him a surprisingly identifiable character. (He’s still a minion, after all).


Otto is small and stocky, but he is the undisputed heart of the story.

Lighting/universal images

Otto has a tuft of hair, a mouthful of braces, and most excitingly, he’s fat. In fact – and it really blows my mind to say this – Otto is the best fat character in a major animated film since the legendary Shrek.

“And if he’s fat?” you might ask. “What does that have to do with anything?” “He’s a minion! Who cares?!”

But it’s a rare thing to see fat characters or body diversity of any kind in mainstream animation. The protagonists are usually remarkably thin to varying degrees, and when taller characters appear, they are marginalized or taunted for their size. When obesity is involved, it threatens to overwhelm a character’s entire personality.

consider family Guy, who makes fun of weight at every opportunity and uses fat people as quick throwaway gags. Peter Griffin and his son Chris are both sloppy jerks; There’s an entire scene where Stewie follows fat people with a tuba and follows their every move with a soundtrack. Fat characters with better defined personalities, like South Parks Eric Cartman, are still the subject of frequent fat jokes.

Even Pixar, which has done a good job with fat characters over the years, has gone down this route Wall-E. While the film is largely considered a masterpiece, it visualizes a dystopian future in which everyone has grown so fat they can no longer walk on their own feet.


in the WALL Ethe little robot encounters a world full of overweight people.


This is mostly comedy – animated at that, which inherently requires the suspension of disbelief. But as someone who has been overweight all his life, such depictions leave an uncomfortable, lasting impression. Heck, I’m still not past the Disney’s moment chicken small when chubby Runt tumbles down a hill, emitting a grotesque belch every time he hits the ground while his other, skinnier friends remain silent.

At least one psychological study proves that I’m not just sensitive. In a 2005 report on the effects of body weight depictions in animation, researchers noted that “the predominant tendency has been for cartoons to convey positive messages about being thin and negative messages about being overweight”.

Fat characters are often the bad guys too — think Disney villains like Pete, Queen of Hearts, and Ursula. These performances can have harmful effects on viewers of all types and ages – especially younger ones, like all those kids who munch on Despicable Me movies.

However, Otto is the exception to the rule. In just one film he manages to become the absolute star of it all Despicable Me Franchise. As hero of Rise of Gruhe gets his own character sheet, complete with tough defeats and big victories. He’s sweet, funny, and filled with an unrelenting desire to help. Otto is not only personable – he is lovable.

Despite being much wider than the other minions, Otto’s height is never addressed, even for the kind of cheap throwaway jokes that so many other animations rely on. Otto is allowed to participate in the film’s physical comedy with everyone else: when Gru tells the minions they’re going to play “the silent game,” no one takes it more seriously than Otto, who holds his breath until he blushes and falls over. He is so devoted to Gru that he is willing to swoon to please him.

A yellow character with suspenders is racing on his bicycle.

Otto pedals non-stop for miles on his bike to save the day.

Lighting/universal images

Minions are single-celled organisms that exist to serve, but the film also gives Otto a chance to be a leader. Otto joins the beloved trio of Bob, Kevin, and Stuart to recover a lost artifact, but when the trio head off in one direction, Otto follows his instincts and goes in the opposite direction. He’s right and pedals madly across the country on a toy bike to save the day without ever getting out of breath.

Interestingly the Despicable Me Franchise already had one bold character: Gru, his anti-hero. what rises Rise of Gru is that it gives Gru a chance to work through his concerns about his weight. His (evil) heroes, the Vicious 6, mock him for being “chubby” and crushing Gru’s spirit. After this moment, he becomes incredibly cruel to Otto, treating him harder than everyone else and channeling his own insecurities about his size into his devoted Minion. Gru bullies Otto because of his weight, just as Gru was bullied because of his own.

But Otto doesn’t have any of the insecurities that Gru does, and is perfectly comfortable with his own portly stature. Although Gru is angry at him for a mistake he made, Otto Gru never gives up. Otto more than makes up for his mistakes by showing Gru that his stubbornness doesn’t have to get in the way of his supervillain aspirations, and Otto’s hard work ensures that he and Gru end up having the last laugh.

As the legendary Winnie the Pooh – one of the greatest cartoon characters, fat or not – said, “I’m short, fat, and proud of it.” The Rise of Gru takes this quote to heart and creates a fat little character who is both the star and more than his number on the scale. Of course, Minions: The Rise of Gru is the last place on earth I expected to find such subtle, powerful activism, but the film has an important message: Being fat isn’t a barrier to success, and it doesn’t define you. If the thunderous applause at the end of my performance was any indication, then this is Otto’s world now and we only live in it. The Rise of Gru is the most body positive film of the year


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