Minions July 10, 2015
You either love or you hate Minions — there’s no in-between, at least as of 2015. Back in 2010, they were fun little creations of animated preciousness, sure to make one laugh. But with the constant promotion that has surrounded them, especially in the face of 2013’s Despicable Me 2 and this year’s Minions, we’ve come to a point where you still want to purchase a stuffed, voiceless figurine, or you want to throw darts at a picture of their likeness.
I’ve always loved them — not in the same way the kids ten and under do, though — but this second sequel to Despicable Me (though technically a prequel), while delightful, hardly convinces that these foot-high giggle mavens really need a standalone movie. A backstory for a superhero I can handle; but considering I never found myself curious as to whether these yellow nuggets always worked for Gru, Minions feels rather needless. Charmingly needless. But needless all the same.
Beginning as if it were an Animal Planet special, the story of the Minions is narrated by a voice akin to David Attenborough, all knowing and invested in his subjects. Minions, it seems, are immortal; they began as single-celled organisms and evolved over the years, finding their niche around the Dinosaur era. Nothing has ever changed in their life goals, however — finding and serving an evil master is what they’ve been brought on this Earth to do. They repeat the same tasks over and over again for centuries, loving every minute of it. But after the Ice Age overtakes the atmosphere, they find themselves without a villain to worship. So they become isolated, lonely. Their easygoing cheer withers away.
That all changes come 1968, when they decide it’s finally time for a change after years of boring nothingness. Three of the community members, Kevin, Bob, and Stuart (all voiced by director Pierre Coffin) go out on a limb and sail to New York City, where they run into several obstacles and inadvertently hear about Villain Con, a top secret convention in Orlando in which all the world’s most devilish foes get together and have some sinister fun. At its head is Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), a legendary baddie looking for a new set of henchmen. You can see where this is going. With three Minions in tow, Scarlet tasks them with the impossible — steal the Queen of England’s crown. Then — then — they will become official sidekicks.
Whereas Despicable Me and its sequel were laugh-out-loud funny, Minions is mostly cutesy, gut-busters few and far-between. This isn’t a huge problem — the film is always entertaining — but likability only goes so far before we begin to realize that things aren’t as original as they were before. The comic situations are still disaster laden, the animation is still deliciously caricaturish, and the voiceover work is still zany (Bullock is a great addition). Nothing has changed; only the freshness has. It’s carefree family entertainment, ready to please the children. Just don’t expect to remember it a second after you leave the theater. B-