Since their introduction in 2010’s Despicable Me, the little yellow henchmen known as Minions have become a worldwide phenomenon. Their importance to the plot was increased in Despicable Me 2, and they even got their own theme park ride. Now, they take the inevitable yet logical step of having their own movie, and sadly it’s not much more than a cash grab that exists simply to capitalise on their incredible popularity.
Starting at the beginning of time, the film opens with the Minions trying to find a the most despicable of master to follow – from the dinosaurs to Ancient Egypt and beyond, they can’t seem to manage to keep a leader. Fast forward to the 1960s, three courageous Minions, Kevin, Stuart and Bob, decide to venture out on an adventure to find their next master. Their journey leads them to Florida, where they are recruited by mega villain Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock) to steal the Queen’s crown in order for her to rule over England. Are the trio up for the job, and can they save the rest of their kind from extinction?
It’s no secret that the Minions were a major reason for the success of the Despicable Me films. Completely indecipherable with their made up language, their slapstick comedy and hapless antics stuck chords with both adults and children. But that was just in small doses (extended to a much bigger dose in its sequel), and with their standalone movie it simply is too much of a good thing. That’s not to say there isn’t any laughs to be had here, but the film plays more like a series of skits and shorts than having a solid narrative. The overused story of stealing the Queens jewels isn’t told in any new way either, and the viewers level of enjoyment will ultimately fall on how much of a fan they are of the pill-shaped creatures.
Sandra Bullock puts in an unenthusiastic turn as Overkill, while Jon Hamm fairs a little better as her husband Herb. Director Pierre Coffin voices all of the Minions, and his French and Spanish tinged babbling is probably the saving grace of the movie; It’s strange how a fake, unintelligible language better spoken than English.
Credit where it’s due though: 60s London is stereotypically animated but brilliantly accompanied by the music from the time. The Doors, The Who, The Kinks and, in one of the films few highlights, a sampling of the rock band Van Halen. The colourful and vibrant animation should be enough to keep the younger ones attention on the screen, although when there’s jokes about torture and hanging I’m not sure parents will think that’s such a good thing.
The films closing moments do bring the three films full circle, and possibly hints at a potential plot for Despicable Me 3, but it’s hard not to think that the origin story for the best characters in the series should have been more imaginative than this.
60s London bursting with life
Flashes of familiar Minion insanity
Most unoriginal of the franchise
Plays more like a series of skits or shorts rather than fleshed out full feature