I view myself as a child at heart. As cliché as the phrase is, I still find myself reading new children’s books and pursuing Cartoon Network for “Adventure Time.” Perhaps in some ways I’m now able to enjoy kid things with more freedom because as an adult there’s less worry about being “cool.” And being judged by a pack of 7- to 12-year-old girls is no longer a worry.
Therefore I went into the Minions movie with modest, yet still eager, expectations. Spin-off films are becoming a thing now. Last year’s Penguins of Madagascar proved that the comedic relief can get their own film. That film was marginally better than Illumination Entertainment’s babbling Minions. But not by much.
This film had everything going for it: adorable Twinkie-shaped heroes, ridiculous visual gags, and big Hollywood names. Yet it deflated like a balloon snake in the first 15 minutes.
What killed it was that all the best jokes and gags had already been given away in the previews. In fact, the first chunk of the film was almost the exact theatrical trailer. It was just stretched out, beginning with single-celled minions floating around in a primordial soup. The narration by Geoffrey Rush did add a little humorous flavor, but it had nothing to back it up story-wise.
In fact the plot is so predictable that you could fall asleep and catch up in an instant. In a nutshell, the minions’ sole purpose in life is to service an evil “boss.” Through their ineptitude they habitually kill off their evil messiahs until they eventually go into hiding — chased by angry imperialist Frenchmen.
Speaking of French, one cannot make a successful film where the heroes babble in French-Spanish gibberish for an hour and half. It’s hilarious for a little bit, but grows quickly annoying.
Left without an evil leader to tend, the minions — who are apparently immortal — quickly despair and become so utterly depressed that they rival emotionally over-wrought teenagers.
Enter in Kevin, Stuart and Bob: three tenacious characters that set off to find a new boss. They arrive in New York City in the swinging ’60s. Through some hi-jinks and coincidences they make it to “Villain Con,” where they meet Sandra Bullock’s Scarlett Overkill.
One thing can be said for this film — everyone involved sounded like they were having a blast. Bullock was no exception as she seemed to relish playing the baddie.
Insert more time-wasting plotless gags and the minions become Scarlett’s henchmen. She whisks them to London where we meet her hubby and evil gadget engineer Herb Overkill, voiced by Jon Hamm. (Another actor who was clearly having way too much fun!)
Scarlett tasks the minions with a plot to steel the Queen’s crown. (The Queen is voiced by the Jennifer Saunders, who you might recognize as the voice of the Fairy Godmother in Shrek 2.)
The second half of the film is overflowing with British stereotypes, to the point where I had to wonder if the production team actually knows anything at all about the U.K. Having lived in London, I can honestly say that there is far more to the Brits than drinking tea, bad teeth, and “politeness.” (Though all those things are true to a point.) But we can’t have the next generation be bereft of shallow stereotyping now can we?
Don’t get me wrong, I can laugh at a fart joke with the best of them — and stereotypes do have some thread of basis in reality, but Minions failed to sell itself. The humor was all too predictable in the end.
Minions had none of the charm of Despicable Me or even Despicable Me 2. Characters like the minions need a character like Gru to bounce off. Otherwise they aren’t funny as much as they are annoying. What made them so charming before was their limited screen time. They are comedic relief. Not heroes. They simply cannot carry an entire film.
That being said, Minions is the perfect movie for kids. My theater was brimming with them and they laughed uproariously at every bad joke. This film is truly for them. But for those of you who are parents or kids at heart, you’ll find this film one large yellow pill to swallow. #beepoo.
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