Minions

Minions photo starrating-3andahalfstars.jpgIt was only a matter of time before the Minions, those breakout stars from the Despicable Me movies, got their own picture. You already know whether you’re going to enjoy this. If you appreciated their antics in the aforementioned films, then you should find this to be the bee’s knees. On the other hand, if you walk in begrudgingly detesting those lovable rapscallions, then you’ll undoubtedly just go on hating them with clenched fists and a closed heart. Theirs is a physical comedy part of a rich tradition that is an evolution of slapstick and farce. Buster Keaton begat The Three Stooges who begat Jerry Lewis who begat Benny Hill who begat the Minions.

The word evolution is particularly apropos in this case. Minions commences with the very dawn of time. Starting as single-celled organisms, we see the Minions evolve through the ages. In every era they unceasingly serve a litany of only the most despicable of masters. From Tyrannosaurus Rex to Dracula to Napoleon, they go through one boss after another, accidentally killing off each one due to their own clumsiness. Our proper adventure begins when the Minions (all voiced by director Pierre Coffin) find themselves without a master to serve. Then one Minion named Kevin decides to change things. He has a plan to find a new master. He’s taking two buddies, Stuart and Bob. These three, who bear a striking style similarity to Gru’s 3 daughters, travel cross the ocean. They visit New York City first – circa 1968 or 42 years B.G (Before Gru) – before winding up in swinging mod London.

The setup lays the groundwork for a nonstop silly fun fest. Granted, the Minions are not known for their sophisticated wit. In fact most of their communication is a dialect that is mixture of English words peppered with foreign phrases. It’s a creative amalgamation of vernacular where syntax is key. Humor is derived from being able to interpret their Minionese within the right context. Although you don’t understand the vocabulary, you feel what they’re saying. It’s not hard to grasp. Kids in particular appreciate their lighthearted ability to adapt to whatever situation they must face. It’s an admirable quality.

Their business takes them to something called Villain-Con in Orlando. The city is presented as swampland in 1968 but it’s perhaps no small coincidence that the studio responsible for this, built a resort there in 1990. Villain-Con is clearly based on San Diego’s Comic Con but functions as sort of a delegation for the most evil supervillains ever assembled. Look carefully and you’ll notice Dr Nefario from the previous films. Gru and his mother are there too. With a nod to female empowerment, the undisputed leader in the field is Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), the baddest criminal of them all. With her perfect 1960’s flip, she recalls Mary Tyler Moore. Her husband Herb (Jon Hamm) suggests Ringo Starr…or is it Pete Townshend? I’m not too sure. The rocking 60s soundtrack features both The Beatles (“Got To Get You Into My Life”) and The Who (“My Generation”) so I suppose it could be either. Which leads into my next point.

On the surface Minions is silly fun, but the narrative highlights a lot of delightful in-jokes that should entice hip viewers. Kids won’t get them and frankly many adults won’t either. The floor in Scarlet Overkill’s abode resembles the carpet in The Shining. Stuart greets the fire hydrant he fancies with “Papagena” which sounds like nonsense unless you realize it’s a character in The Magic Flute. Kevin whistles a tune from Mozart’s opera later. Scarlet Overkill’s bedtime story about a big bad wolf is underscored by Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. But it’s not all classical music. Baby boomers should dig the 60s fan service. Minions pop up out of a manhole cover just as the Beatles are crossing the street à la Abbey Road. The minions sing “Revolution”, the “Theme from the Monkees”, and “Hair”. They watch TV while flipping past The Saint, Bewitched & The Dating Game. Alas there are instances where toilet humor shows up like an unwelcome house guest. In those brief moments, taste takes a regrettable detour. However, more often than not, Minions is a feast for savvy pop culture aesthetes and their children as well.

07-09-15

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20 Responses to “Minions”

  1. I’ll gladly sit on the bench for this one (mostly b/c I never saw Despicable Me), but I’m glad to hear it’s a worthy installment. I’ve read some pretty varying opinions on this, but the consensus seems to be one’s enjoyment hinges entirely on whether you can tolerate (or understand) the Minions lol

  2. smilingldsgirl Says:

    You definitely noticed things I didn’t. Still it didn’t make me laugh which is a problem for a comedy. It was cute but I was kind of disappointed. A lot of the clever stuff was in the trailer.

    • Minions probably won’t sway those who aren’t already on board. I’m guessing you didn’t love the Despicable Me movies. However for enthusiasts, it is a hilarious confection.

      • smilingldsgirl Says:

        Yeah I thought DM movies were ok but the Minions were my favorite part of those films so I was expecting to really love it. So far you are only person I know who found it so funny but that’s awesome. What can I say it didnt make me laugh but humor is super subjective

      • smilingldsgirl Says:

        To me it was cute but average

  3. Nice review! Woohoo – Minions!!!! Love them so much. 😉 Glad you enjoyed this. 🙂

    • Minions was actually released in the UK 2 weeks before the US. It’s doing massive business internationally, but we’re catching up! 😀

      • Oh, cool! I knew we had it a little early but didn’t know it was that early. That almost makes up for Inside Out still not being out here! (But not quite…) 😦

  4. Glad you gave this a good score. I’m going to be watching it sooner or later so it’s great that it doesn’t suck!

  5. I love the Minions already, so I knew I’d like this. They are like the Three Stooges. They have a language you don’t need to understand. It’s just complete fun. 4 stars.

    • Even when adjusting for ticket price inflation, Minions easily outgrossed the original Despicable Me, but it still wasn’t quite the box office juggernaut that people were expecting.

  6. I loved the Minions in the Despicable Me movies, but sadly I did not find this movie to be the bee’s knees. I enjoy them in small doses, however I don’t think they can effectively carry a whole film. For me it’s hard to connect with characters that speak entirely in gibberish and difficult to get into a movie when there are no straight characters. Everyone is zany in Minions, which doesn’t make the humor as punchy or give it the necessary narrative balance. I laughed very little, which was disappointing. For me the film’s saving grace is its 1960s setting and the soundtrack that comes with it. At least I could dig the music. And the film’s visuals are nothing to scoff at either. Everything looks so rich and textured in 3D with beautiful depth and light effects.

    • Even though the movies were called Despicable Me, I felt the Minions were still the stars with Gru as a supporting part. Here they didn’t have to carry the film either. They had Scarlet Overkill and her husband Herb, the Nelsons, and Elizabeth II.

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