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Style / October 2020
Danielle Rines, Reebok Editorial

“Think Minion” with Movie Director Kyle Balda

The Reebok x Minion collection is here. Get an inside peek at the shoe that outsmarts us all with the film’s director.

They’re the want-to-be evil villains you can’t help but love. Unlike most movie bad guys, they are little and yellow, obsessed with bananas, and suited up for trouble in goggles and overalls. The Minion characters have completely flipped the movie world of bad guys and evil master plans on its head. They speak in an undistinguishable language that you’re convinced you can understand, and, you might find yourself rooting for them. While serving supervillain Gru, their bizarre sense of humor and constant mischievous mishaps capture your attention while stealing focus from their superior partner in crime. There is true genius behind the stories of these imaginative villains who carry out chaotic evil deeds with a sunny disposition. One of the visionaries, a man who has helped shepherd the movie’s creation and brings the Minion’s sunny evildoing to life, is film director Kyle Balda. 
The Despicable Me franchise has become a global cultural phenomenon and Balda has been part of it since day one. “I’ve been working in the Despicable Me universe since the beginning,” he says. “First, as the head of layout on ‘Despicable Me’ and finally as director on ‘Minions’, ‘Despicable Me 3” and ‘Minions: Rise of Gru.’” The franchise’s newest film ‘Minions: Rise of Gru’ is the untold story of a 12-year-old Gru, figuring out how to achieve his dream of becoming the world’s greatest supervillain. In his attempt to join the supervillain supergroup the Vicious 6, he meets the Minions and they experience their first missions together. 
While we sometimes wish the beloved Minions could jump out of the screen and come to life, for Balda they pretty much do. Directing the latest installment of the franchise was like one big reunion. “I was so happy to be back with Kevin, Stuart, and Bob (the three main Minions) on this latest film. They are definitely my favorite part of working on these films. For me, they are truly alive, and you feel it while storyboarding or animating. They tell you who they are and where they want to go like they have little minds of their own.” 
Ahead of the movie’s release next summer and in honor of these loveable villains, Reebok has released the Reebok x Minion collection. Created in partnership with Illumination Entertainment and Universal Brand Development, the collection includes Reebok’s franchise silhouettes: a Minionized Instapump Fury and Club C, an evil lab-inspired Question Mid, and an Instapump Fury and Club C designed with Vicious 6 in mind. Just like the Minions, the shoes are designed to outsmart us all with top-secret details hidden in every pair. The collection also includes a limited-edition crop top, t-shirt, and a long sleeve shirt so you can join the Minion army too. 
Balda says it’s fun to see the Minions come to life in a whole new way. “It’s so cool! I love how the Minion motifs are subtly integrated into the design. The shoes are undoubtedly Reebok but with little hints of the Minions, like Easter eggs.” There’s a shoe in the collection for every Minion fan depending on how loud you want to get or how many you plan to collect. “My personal favorite is the Club C ‘Vicious 6’ as it is the one I would most likely wear (and can pull off). It has more subdued tones which go with my dress style.  But I really love Stuart’s eye on the Instapump Fury ‘Minions’, I think those are the most fun.” You can feel like you’re part of the movie and go from a Minion to the lab or become a member of the Vicious 6, the options are endless.
The collection focuses on the big moments from the latest movie, but there were so many fun scenes to create. Balda says of all the scenes in the new film he has one favorite that is a stereotypical Minions moment and shows off their special brand of nonsense. “Kung Fu! At the core of Minions: Rise of Gru is Kevin, Stuart, and Bob on a mission to rescue Gru. The film takes place in the ’70s in San Francisco, so naturally, the Minions think they need to learn Kung Fu to save their “mini-boss.”  They do so by enlisting the help of Master Chow (Michelle Yeow) who finds herself with three of the most challenging students she’s ever had.” While the Master Chow character faced her challenges training the Minions, so did the animators who worked on the project. Balda says some moments were difficult to convey on screen. “One of the greatest challenges the animators faced was how to translate the curmudgeonly persona of Gru into the younger boy version of himself. They had to keep all the subtle nuances that are signature to his character but in a pint-sized package.  On the flip side, the Minions doing Kung Fu in this movie was a gymnastic feat in itself considering their tiny little legs.”
The special relationship the Minions have with Gru is the central theme in all the films. They have such a strong desire to be evil masterminds and help Gru hatch his despicable plans that they’ll do anything for him. Their unwavering, blind loyalty and undeniable love for his evil genius ways are what creates the infamous Minion moments. “The Minions want to be bad without really understanding what that means,” says Balda. “All they want more than anything is to help Gru even if they screw up all the time. They are the classic underdogs and even though nobody can understand their language, you always know what they are thinking and feeling which makes them very relatable.” 
If the Minions have captured your heart like they’ve captured most of the world (in their multiple attempts to destroy it), don’t miss your chance to get your hands on an entire collection dedicated to your favorite villains.
Style / October 2020
Danielle Rines, Reebok Editorial