Minions (dir. Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda)

Posted: July 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

Now that we’ve had two “Despicable Me” films (the second one unseen by me) and a plethora of merchandise released, one can understand if the Minion characters from those films have crossed a line from funny to annoying.  To many they have, but to me I still find them chuckle-worthy.  The Minions, of course, are little yellow, somewhat round characters who wear overalls and thick goggles (even the ones with only one eye) and did the grunt work for super-villain wannabe Gru (Steve Carrell).  They’re known for their weird speech, which seems to be a mixture of Spanish, Yiddish, Baby Talk, Babbling, and a few English words.  Well, now they have their very own spin-off movie/prequel, “Minions”, and it’s an often cute and reasonably funny little movie explaining their origins.

The Minions apparently evolved from the beginning of time and started walking on land right around the age of the dinosaurs.  As far as I can tell they are all male, and seemingly immortal, both of them being odd for evolution to produce, but whatever.  For some reason, these creatures are happiest when serving a tough or evil master.  Then, sometime after they fail to help Napoleon, they exile themselves to some frozen climate where they hunker down in a cave until the 1960s, thus finding a way to avoid helping Hitler or Stalin.  Good move on the part of the writer, Brian Lynch, whose character has been spent writing comic books and children’s movies.

Anyway, their exile is pretty dull without a master to serve.  This leads Kevin, one of the taller and smarter Minions, to propose he strikes out into the world to find a new master.  He is accompanied by an  idiot named Bob, and a guitar-playing-slightly-lesser-of-an-idiot Stuart. All three Minions are voiced by one of the film’s directors, Pierre Coffin. Their trip takes them to 1960s New York City and then a convention for super-villains in Orlando where they latch on to Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), who sort of looks like Lily Tomlin. Scarlet is, in this universe, the world’s first female super-villain, and she wants the Minions to help her steal the crown of the Queen of England.  That’s pretty much our plot.

The humor of the film is a mix of silliness, 60s references (“The Dating Game”), potshots at Britain, slapstick, and absurd characters.  There’s nothing particularly hilarious in the film, but there are many chuckles and the humor has a good split between gags that only adults will find funny, and easy gags that kids will laugh at.  This isn’t as high-brow as a Pixar film.  “Minions” is largely meant to be goofy fun and not much more.  I suppose I could be nitpicky and say that the Minions need to serve a master to be happy , and their ultimate defense of a monarchy, is an insidious endorsement of wage-slavery, and that it portrays lowly workers as incompetents serving masters of varying levels of competence, but I don’t think the film was intended as an insult to workers  or endorsement of the bourgeoisie.  The film was meant to be a pretty looking, wonderfully 60s-soundtrack-scored piece of cute, animated fluff.

At what it attempts to be, it succeeds.  I wish it were funnier or more clever, but the film as it exists is fun enough. B

P.S.  The post-credits sequence is worth sticking around for if you watch the film in 3D.

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