a critiQal film review Minions (2015)

Plot: Evolving from single-celled yellow organisms at the dawn of time, Minions live to serve, but find themselves working for a continual series of unsuccessful masters, from T. Rex to Napoleon. Without a master to grovel for, the Minions fall into a deep depression. But one minion, Kevin, has a plan; accompanied by his pals Stuart and Bob, Kevin sets forth to find a new evil boss for his brethren to follow. Their search leads them to Scarlet Overkill (Bullock), the world's first-ever super-villainess.

592 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 57s)

After watching Despicable Me (2010), we thought we had seen the end of Gru, despite his funny yellow henchman. Surprisingly, the movie garnered a sequel. Since most of the comedic moments come from those henchmen, they have now gotten their very own movie, Minions.

While we haven’t been able to subject ourselves to Despicable Me 2 (2013) yet, we figured we could give Minions a shot. Would these funny henchmen provide more laughs in their own feature-length film? Or would their comedy be better in smaller doses?

Since this was sure to be a box office hit, lots of well-known names showed up to lend their voices to Minions. Sandra Bullock (Speed (1994)) stars as the Gru replacement of the flick, Scarlett Overkill, and does a good job of both disguising her voice a bit and playing a cartoonish character, although some of her line do fall a bit flat. Jon Hamm (“Mad Men” (TV) is magnificent as her husband, Herb, doling out his lines while giving his character a 60’s hippie vibe. Michael Keaton (Batman (1989)) and Allison Janney (“The West Wing” (TV)) also pop up as a couple in the film, with Keaton getting most of the best lines of the pair.

The minions themselves, with their nonsensical language, are still fun to watch, and seem to make a bit of progress as characters as the film develops. The film focuses on three minions – Kevin, Stuart and Bob – as they make their way into the world and search for a villain worthy of their adoration. They go through lots of trials and tribulations – many of their own doing – and, like Gru, end up coming out the better for it…only to throw it all away just to tie the film in with Despicable Me (2010).

Minions, then, can be split into three sections: the beginning (with all the minions together); the adventures of Kevin, Stuart and Bob; and the tie-in with the DESPICABLE ME series. Sadly, each section is less entertaining as the film progresses. The film is at it’s best as it shows vignettes of the yellow henchmen messing up throughout the ages – this is what these little guys are meant for, and they shine in this series of shorts. Then Kevin, Stuart and Bob split off, and, while still providing loads of sight gags and a FORREST GUMP like revision of history, this is where the thin plot shows it’s stretch marks. And finally, Minions ends with a tie-in that basically throws away anything these guys have learned throughout the film.

The animation is top-notch, as is par for the course with these films. The little yellow guys are brilliant and their surroundings are awash in color. The viewer never gets the idea that these guys aren’t really going through the motions in their cartoonish world.

Starting off strong and gradually getting weaker, Minions just doesn’t have enough to propel it even to it’s brief 91 minute runtime. The film shows it’s weaknesses once it gets past the series of vignettes that kick it off in high gear. The plot gets thin, and famous songs seem to be thrown in just to extend sequences, rather than for any real significance to the “plot”. Add in the inevitable tie-in to the series that spawned it that basically throws away the entire film, and Minions is exposed as the cash-cow it actually is.

Sure there’s entertainment value in Minions. But, with it’s myriad of faults, the film does little more than prove that these linguistically garbled henchmen are better in smaller doses.

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