If you’ve seen either Despicable Me movies, you know the Minions. The little yellow guys who do Gru’s bidding and speak a weird mix of French, English, Spanish, and Gibberish (I think). Well they needed an origin story, of course, so here we go!
Undoubtedly the Minions were one of the best things about the Despicable Me films (or most annoying if you were a parent subjected to their gibberish over and over again). But do they really need their own movie? Apparently.
After a brief evolutionary history of these strange creatures, we find ourselves tagging along with three of them – Kevin, Stuart, and Bob (all voiced by Pierre Coffin). Kevin, Stuart and Bob are on an important mission. You see, Minions need to serve an evil master. The most big bad boss they can find. Otherwise they have no purpose and will fade into nothingness and perish. Hiding out in a Hoth-like cavern for many, many, years after being chased by their last boss Napoleon has taken its toll. Yes, Napoleon. Nobody said they were good at their jobs. Also, apparently Minions are capable of living basically forever.
So the three walking yellow jelly beans have left the tribe in search of a new big boss. They find themselves in 1968 New York City where they happen to hear about Villain Con. A secret convention for the most villainous people around, held in Orlando, Villain Con seems like the perfect place to find the perfect new evil boss! With the help of a comically evil Bonnie and Clyde-esque couple and their kids (Allison Janney and Michael Keaton), they make their way to Orlando. There they win the attention of Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) and are off to London to steal the queen’s crown.
Geoffrey Rush narrates, Jon Hamm appears as Herb Overkill, and Steve Carell cameos.
If this sounds like a wackadoodle plot for a movie, that’s because it is, and we haven’t even gotten into half of it yet. It’s easy enough to follow along, despite lacking proper speech from its protagonists and possessing the plot building capacity of a hyperactive six year old. It never finds its sweet spot though. The two Despicable films, as off the wall as they were, had a specific flavor to them that kids loved. This movie seems determined to cram as many jokes and references for the adults in the audience as possible, while still being a zany kids flick, and manages to fail at really appealing to either demographic.
Stuffed with references to 60’s rock and culture, skewering England and the Queen something fierce, and mocking comic book conventions, this movie is all over the map. So much so, it’s surprising that it doesn’t drive off a cliff. While Gru (Carell) was shown to be a villain with a conscience who grew into a truly likable guy, there’s not much substance to Overkill, whose name may just be a deft nod to this film itself. Her backstory consists pretty much of having wished to be a pretty princess when she was little so kids wouldn’t tease her. Yep.
Villainy and crime seem to be blindly celebrated and persecuted at the same time, with no real rhyme or reason, which isn’t the best message in a kids movie. It’s sort of an issue that comes from creating a franchise around being “despicable”…
The laughs are chuckles at most, and save for a few inspired moments, the Minions’ shtick grows old when stretched across an entire film – even one that lasts only 91 minutes.
This movie goes some strange places with no real evidence of the plot having been thought out thoroughly. In fact, in some ways, it reminds me of that group party game where everyone tells one story by adding on a sentence or two to the person before them. It makes for some amusing moments, but not much else.
Despite so much effort, it lacks any real oompf or energy, with jokes missing most audiences, and being rather forgettable, even if some parts are rather well done. It’s just superfluous. Kids will probably enjoy themselves, at least the first time, but I don’t really see this one being on constant replay afterwards.
Mrs. Hamster says:
“It was cute and dumb, like the Minions.”
My rating: Two out of five hats
Minions Po kass bananaaaa tank yuuu theaters nationwide, July 10, including 3D.