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Directors: Kyle Balda; Pierre Coffin
Starring: Sandra Bullock; John Hamm; Michael Keaton; Allison Janney; Steve Coogan; Jennifer Saunders; Geoffrey Rush.
Plot: Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob are recruited by Scarlet Overkill, a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world.
No matter where you go, it seems that the Minions are taking over. Dreamworks have shelled out big bucks on a global marketing strategy in an attempt to try and ensure that parents take their children to see their animated version of summer money-town before they choose to see Disney Pixar’s Inside Out instead. So far, it’s been a success at the box office by making over $440million, but money isn’t necessarily a barometer for judging the quality of a film; so how was it?
Well, Pierre Coffin’s comedic influence that was evident in Despicable Me 1 and 2 (to some extent at least) was evident here, too. Minions was funny, and not just for kids. What Coffin and co-director Kyle Balda did was offer, as expected, an overwhelming amount of jokes and puns aimed at children while also taking a page out of Pixar’s book with a series of adult references that were delivered sufficiently if not with the same gusto as their Pixar counterparts. This comparison, as unfair as it may seem given the vast difference in approaches and techniques between the two production companies, is a relevant one because of how audiences will likely be split in their decision to head over to Inside Out or Minions with their family this Summer. Even so, this is a review about Minions and honestly, it wasn’t a huge waste of time, even for an adult.
The only way to accurately describe Minions to any reader of this review over the age of 18 would be to suggest to them that the story is so bizarre that it’s almost fixating despite its ridiculousness, and that the only conceivable way to understand the processes of the writer are to assume he – Mr. Brian Lynch (Hop, Puss In Boots) – was on some kind of acid trip when he wrote it. Minions really is that ridiculous. Despite this, credit has to go to Lynch, Coffin and Balda for delivering a somewhat watchable movie based entirely on situation humour even though the characters couldn’t actually speak much English, Spanish, or any language for that matter. Maybe that’s why character development, significant plot development and all sorts of logic went out of the window?
Minions also sported an array of terrific comedy voices in the cast list including: Sandra Bullock; John Hamm; Steve Coogan; and, Michael Keaton. Unfortunately, not a single one of them was used to enhance the picture, with all but a few (Bullock and Hamm) uttering only 2 or 3 lines of dialogue before disappearing for the rest of the film. This really hindered any character development that could have occurred and left the film locked in a bottomless pit of physical humour and the search for the same illusive “aw” moment that came so naturally over the course of Despicable Me 1; a search that didn’t seem to produce results. Even so, the animation was adequate for a movie filled with the almost too-simple “yellow pill shaped creatures” (as one character references in the movie), and some scenes of the mostly London-based film were borderline beautiful, something that seemed to occur almost randomly throughout the picture and was certainly not evident for its entirety.
Overall, Minions, the Despicable Me prequel and Dreamworks’ competitor to Pixar’s Inside Out, was so strange and ridiculous that it was almost enjoyable despite its obvious inadequacies with regard to most of what would usually equate to a film being ‘watchable’. With a few jokes for the adults and a 1960’s setting for the more senior among us to enjoy the stereotypical representation of, Minions won’t feel like the waste of time it could have otherwise been and will undoubtedly be a worthwhile family destination if not the winner of awards or the admiration of film critics, this one included.