I am as big a fan of the Minions as any adult really has the right to be. There’s something wrong, however, when I take my eleven year-old sister to see Minions and the hardest she laughs is at the title characters singing the fanfare for the Universal Pictures logo.
Minions follows the little guys from the beginning of the world to 1969 on their quest to find the biggest, most despicable boss to serve. After accidentally killing Napoleon (who cares about facts?), the Minions run off into an icy cave, where they fall into a deep depression, listless without a master to work for. Eventually, the Minion Kevin decides to go on a mission to find a new boss. Along with affectionate Bob and cool-guy Stuart, Kevin travels to New York City and then to Orlando, where, at a villain’s convention, he finds Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) the world’s first female supervillain to be their new leader. As their trial mission, Scarlet and her husband Herb (Jon Hamm) task them with stealing the Queen of England’s (Jennifer Saunters) crown. If they fail, not only are they fired, they’re annihilated. Equipped with Herb’s awesome supervillain weapons and a sincere desire to please, the Minions set off to steal the crown, but, of course, the mission does not go as planned and they end up fighting back against an angry Scarlet to save themselves and all Minionkind.
The Minions are just pure bundles of id—all joy and anger and hilarity. I think it would be pretty hard to watch them for ninety minutes and not be entertained at least some of the time. The characters are wonderful and it was fun to see some more in-depth (whatever depth there could be) development of a few particular Minions. The characters, however, have already proved successful. The real question was whether or not the Minions could carry a movie by themselves. They speak some blend of Spanish and English and Gibberish and are seemingly not complex enough to really show growth as dynamic characters. Yet, I actually still believe that a movie that follows the Minions could have been a well-written movie (and possibly an argument for showing children foreign language films). Nevertheless, in this movie, it seems like the screenplay was written by taking all of the ideas from a brainstorming session and contriving ways to string them together. The story bounces from place to place and adventure to adventure, connected by lazy, sometimes illogical, plot developments.
Furthermore, the human characters are shockingly poorly written. Given that the Minions are…what they are…I would expect that the human characters would be more thoughtfully created. Instead, Scarlet Overkill is a pseudo-progressive character who wants a sparkly crown and wants to overthrow the British monarchy, not for the power, the wealth, or the sheer villainy, but so she can achieve her lifelong dream of a shiny coronation.
Meanwhile, she pinches nearly everyone on the cheeks. While she has her funny moments, as a character she does not make sense. Rather than a supervillain, she seems like little more than a super brat. On the other hand, there is a great, squandered opportunity when the Minions find an ousted Queen Elizabeth II drinking beers and telling bawdy jokes in a pub. Rather than have the queen play any role in the restoration of the monarchy, the scene is tossed aside. The non-Minion characters are little more than plot devices to get the Minions from one mishap to the next and, in the end, the Minions’ adventures prove little more than a haphazard prologue to Despicable Me.
While Minions was not simply the clever excuse for marketing that I feared it would be, it also did not deliver as much pure Minion joy as the Despicable Me films. A better story-line or some more Minion-on-Minion sabotage might have made for a better production. 2/5 stars.
Minions was written by Brian Lynch and directed by Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin, who voices the Minions. It runs 91 minutes and is rated PG for action and rude humor.
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