The Minions, everyone’s favorite group of little yellow weirdos from the first two Despicable Me films, now have a movie of their very own! Earlier tonight, Jeff and I braved a theater that was full of hyperactive little children and we watched Minions.
I have to admit that I was really looking forward to seeing Minions. After all, I loved both of the Despicable Me movies and, much like Through the Shattered Lens co-founder Arleigh Sandoc, I thought the minions were pretty adorable. Along with the fact that they were just so weird that you couldn’t help but love them, the minions were distinguished by the wonderfully cheerful approach that they took towards their work. Even when one of them was accidentally launched into space during the original Despicable Me, he continued to smile. He was just happy to be a part of the project. Seriously, who wouldn’t want a bunch of minions to do her bidding?
Now, it was established during the first Despicable Me movie that the minions were specifically created by the super villain Gru. However, Minions reimagines their origins. Now, we discover that the minions have existed since the beginning of time and, apparently immune from aging, they have always sought to serve a villainous master. During the film’s opening, we watch as they serve a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Dracula, and Napoleon. Unfortunately, the minions’ combination of enthusiasm and stupidity proves fatal to most of their employers.
Eventually, the minions find themselves exiled to Antarctica. After several centuries, the minions find themselves suffering from depression and ennui. Finally, three brave minions (all voiced by director Pierre Coffin) volunteer to go out into the world and find a new master to serve. Kevin is the responsible leader. Bob is the cute, enthusiastic one who always carries a teddy bear with him. (Bob also has heterochromia, just like me!) And finally, Stuart is the one who likes to play his guitar.
Kevin, Bob, and Stuart get in a rowboat and eventually, they reach New York City. However, it turns out that the year is 1968 and there is a serious shortage of evil super villains to serve! Not only is Gru just a child but Bill Clinton hasn’t even launched his political career yet! Eventually, though, our three minions learn about Villain-Con, being held in Orlando, Florida. Hitching a ride with a family of aspiring bank robbers (Micheal Keaton is the voice of the father), the minions reach Orlando and eventually, they end up working for Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) and her husband, Herb (Jon Hamm).
Scarlet explains that, ever since she was a little girl, she has wanted to be the Queen of England. But she doesn’t have the crown! She orders Kevin, Stuart, and Bob to get that crown and reads them a bedtime story about three minions who failed to get a crown and were subsequently killed by an angry wolf. AGCK!
This leads to our three minions going to London and, since it’s 1968, that also leads to a lot of good (if predictable) songs on the soundtrack. As a result of several odd incidents, Bob is briefly the King of England. And things only get stranger from there…
The children in the audience loved it but, at the same time, I could never bring myself to like Minions as much as I wanted to. Minions just doesn’t have as much heart as Despicable Me. There’s no moment in Minions that’s anywhere close to being as joyful as the “It’s so fluffy” scene from Despicable Me. The minions are fun supporting characters but they don’t quite work as well as protagonists for a 91 minutes film. Sandra Bullock tries really hard as Scarlet Overkill but she just doesn’t have the right voice for the character. Part of Sandra Bullock’s appeal, after all, is that she not only looks but sounds like she’s totally down-to-earth and that’s one thing that Scarlet definitely is not. Jon Hamm, however, is hilarious as the vacuous Herb.
Minions is a cute movie that doesn’t really make much of an impression. Kids will love it, though. And, even though I would never actually eat there, I’m still going to go by McDonald’s and order a Happy Meal so I can get the little minion that’s inside.
(Especially if it’s one of those cursing minions…)