Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote: "Mein Kriecher sagte mir, dass ich bin nie aufhoere, zu erstaunen. [My lickspittle told me I never cease to amaze him.]"
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two-and-a-half "I-gors" out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Tiny agents of evil plot to enslave mankind.
Tagline: "Go back to where it all began."
Better Tagline: "You kids like jokes about the British monarchy, right?"
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: The Minions, those diminutive yellow lackeys first seen aiding and abetting the supervillain Felonious Gru in the Despicable Me movies, have finally gotten their own feature. Here, Kevin, Stuart, and Bob (all voiced by Pierre Coffin) are seeking — as they've done since the dawn of time — the most despicable of masters to serve. Their latest hope is Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), who, along with evil genius inventor husband Herb (Jon Hamm), is seeking to steal Elizabeth II's crown so Scarlet can become Queen of England. For starters.
"Critical" Analysis: I must be misremembering the Despicable Me movies, or maybe I wasn't paying attention (it happens), because I always assumed Gru created the Minions to be his, uh, minions using science of the mad variety. This is apparently not the case, as we learn that even as single-celled organisms, the little jaundiced turds were constantly attaching themselves to only the most evil and/or aggressive of villains, leading to ill-fated associations with everyone from Tyrannosaurus rex to Napoleon Bonaparte, where they were quite possibly responsible for the Battle of Waterloo.
The Minions retreat to a hidden cave until the lack of a fearsome leader forces the aforementioned triumvirate back into the world. In 1968. I get the sense the date isn't entirely arbitrary. Sure, it's handy as a reference point for a prequel, and it allows the producers to use a bunch of '60s music in occasionally ironic fashion. But more importantly, it's a handy way for writers Brian Lynch and directors Coffin and Kyle Balda to avoid the obvious unpleasantness of having the Minions hook up with Hitler, Stalin, or Mao (though a Nixon campaign billboard is presented as a tantalizing option at one point).
I mean, they state *up front* that the Minions intentionally seek out the "most despicable" villains to serve, and it doesn't get much worse than those (throw in Tojo, Pol Pot, and Enver Pasha if you like). But while I'm sure some 20-something wise asses will dress up as yellow guys with swastika armbands for shock value this Halloween, it'd likely be poor material for a kids' movie.
Having said that, Minions didn't really need to be made. Obviously, the same could be said of 75-80 percent (that's me, generous to a fault) of the movies released this year, and whoever made the decision to greenlight this Despicable Me offshoot was doing so because of the vulgar little ovoids' immense popularity. Granted, that popularity is enjoyed chiefly among those too young to reliably void their bowels outside their pants, but today's parents are incapable of denying their children anything, and the fine folks at Universal Studios know this.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
So when I say there's no reason for this movie to exist, it's primarily because 90 minutes of these guys is way more than we need. As adjunct material, they're fine. They functioned perfectly in the previous movies because they were used to supplement Gru's antics. Otherwise, you had the likes of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, and Benjamin Bratt ("El Macho" was my favorite character in the second film) to carry the proceedings. The Minions always worked best in small doses. Tasked with carrying out the entire movie, they get tiresome quickly, and many of the kids in the theater when I attended were getting restless by the third act.
This would seem in contrast with the assumed purpose of a bunch of things shaped like sedatives. Shouldn't 'mother's little helpers' be calming everyone down? Did I get the whole Age of Aquarius wrong?
I'd like to say Sandra Bullock was able to salvage things, but Scarlet Overkill is pretty generic as villains go, and an unrecognizable Jon Hamm doesn't help things. About the funniest thing I noticed about the cast was that Coffin voices all of the Minions. In fact, every one of his 14 acting credits over the years are Minions-related. That's some Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny focus there. Minions has some inspired moments (who knew Her Royal Highness was such a badass?) but takes a few unexpected dark turns and too rapidly wears out its welcome.
Ask A Six-Year Old (they've had a birthday since Inside Out):
"What did you like about the movie?"
"I liked Scarlet."
"But Scarlet was the bad guy."
[peers worriedly in rearview mirror]