Review – Minions

Poster for 2015 animated spin-off Minions

Genre: Animation
Certificate: U
UK Release Date: 26th June 2015
Runtime: 91 minutes
Director: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin
Writer: Brian Lynch
Starring: Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Allison Janney, Michael Keaton, Geoffrey Rush, Jennifer Saunders, Steve Coogan
Synopsis: A trio of minions leave their tribe and seek to travel the world in search of a new evil master for their friends and family to follow.

 

 

The Despicable Me franchise has been a resounding success and managed to almost single-handedly put Illumination Entertainment on the map. Few would doubt that the adorable yellow minions who served as the antihero’s henchmen had a lot to do with that success. As such, Minions ranks as one of the most inevitable spin-off movies of all time. Thankfully, it’s more than good enough.

Having inadvertently killed their previous bosses, the minions (Pierre Coffin) are searching for a new villain to serve. A trio of minions – Kevin, Stuart and Bob – go looking and find themselves at Villain-Con, where they meet Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock) and her husband Herb (Jon Hamm). She enlists the minions to help her steal the Crown Jewels from the Queen (Jennifer Saunders).

Minions gets by largely as a result of the inherent charm of its unique protagonists rather than any acts of filmmaking invention. Every moment of the film in which the focus is on yellow-bodied antics is automatically imbued with a terrific slapstick. Before the film even begins, the spectacle of a minion singing along to the Universal Pictures jingle gets the laughter juices flowing.

| "This is Queen Elizabeth. And I really, really, really want her crown."

Unfortunately, though, Minions has enormous plot issues. The characters are simply unable of being the centre of a coherent story. They were originally conceived as a side attraction and, like the Penguins of Madagascar, should have remained that way. As entertaining as the characters are, they are completely unable of carrying a narrative on their own.

It doesn’t help the film’s cause that the non-minion characters are thoroughly uninteresting. Scarlett Overkill, despite a game vocal performance from Sandra Bullock, never rises above conventional villainy and lacks the complexity of Despicable Me protagonist Gru. The minions themselves, although cute, never really manage to arouse much sympathy either, leaving the story’s distinctly unimaginative plot without any sort of narrative hook.

As a mere humorous diversion, though, it’s tough to fault Minions, given that it is centred around a set of characters who have become a true cultural phenomenon. Even as the story fails to build momentum, the laughs keep coming courtesy of the minions’ slapstick talents. There’s nothing to rival the best moments of the Despicable Me films, but there are consistent giggles.

| "Doesn’t it feel so good to be bad?"

It seems wrong to criticise Minions for a lack of narrative depth when its purpose is merely to entertain a young audience besotted with the film’s yellow creatures. Kids will be enthralled by this film, but for adults, Pixar’s Inside Out is a much better viewing choice.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Pop!

Yet again, a spin-off of a popular animated property has major narrative shortcomings. However, such is the charm of Minions and its central characters that any criticism simply feels like raining on an unstoppable parade.

The human characters barely register and there’s no emotional pull to anything. However, what Minions does deliver is laughter. And really, what more did it need to do?

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

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