Running Length: 91 minutes
Cast: Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney
Directed by: Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda
Written by: Brian Lynch
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
It’s still good... It’s just not Pixar or Aardman good.
After the phenomenal success of Despicable Me 1 & 2, it was inevitable that the yellow gibberish-spouting supporting characters (and marketing bonanza) would get their own spin-off. Essentially, Minions is the pre-Gru history of the begoggled anthropomorphic lemon tictacs. A nice little prologue (narrated by Geoffrey Rush) tells us that the minions’ raison d’être is to serve the truly evil. Why? Well, the ethics are sidestepped completely, but suffice to say that they have managed to find some of history’s worst tyrants. Through their ineptitude, the minions have killed off every evil overlord from Genghis Kahn to Napoleon (a bit with Hitler might show up on the DVD extras, but that might be a bridge too far for a kid’s film). After finding themselves leaderless once again, the minions retire to a cave in Antarctica to languish in despondency. A trio of plucky minions resolve to find a new overlord and give the tribe a reason to live once again. So realising their yellow version of manifest destiny, Kevin, Stuart and Bob set off for a supervillain expo in Orlando.
When the three principal stooges are centre stage, Minions is an absolute joy. The unfettered lunacy and absurdist humour is wonderfully surreal, with nice set-ups and some very creative sight-gags. Sadly this momentum is lost when the focus shifts to the “human” characters. Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm are both actors with proven comedic chops, but as arch-villain Scarlett and Herb Overkill, they are poorly served by a first draft script sorely lacking in jokes. It’s still good; far better than Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon franchise, in fact. It’s just not Pixar or Aardman good. Minions is not a classic by any means, but there’s still more than enough here to keep the kids happy and the parents awake.