Hollywood lives by the axiom "Where there's money, there's more money," which is how we get remakes of movies that shouldn't have been made in the first place. It's also the reason the Minions -- those tiny henchmen of the Despicable Me pictures -- get their own movie. On the plus side, that movie boasts the elegantly spare title Minions, which suits these pint-sized hellions in all their Rogaine-haired, googly-eyed, minimalist majesty. But should these peripatetic cold capsules be expected to carry a star vehicle?
Sadly, the answer is "banana." Which, in Minionspeak, can mean a lot of things, but in plain English simply means our little friends aren't quite up to the task. That's no fault of the Minions themselves, true pros who clearly give their all. But something is off. This is an origin story, explaining how the naughty but dutiful Minions were for centuries a dejected, displaced people: Since the beginning of time -- or at least since the days when dinosaurs roamed the Earth -- they've been searching for just the right villain to serve, with little to no success.
Their quest eventually takes them to London in 1968, where they become enchanted with Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock), a bouffant-haired baddie in a poufy red strapless dress that nobody cool would have actually worn in 1968 London. Scarlett gives them an assignment: to steal the Queen of England's crown. It's all perfectly OK, and even, at times, delightful: Minions is dotted with clever sight gags, including a scene of early Minions scampering about on prehistoric Earth, wearing little fig leaves -- covering what, exactly? But the grooviness feels a little forced, and Scarlett Overkill makes an uninspiring villain.