Minions – Despicable, Indeed

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Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda. Produced by Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy. Written by Brian Lynch. Release date: July 10, 2015.

The most memorable and marketable aspect that came out of the Despicable Me movies were the Minions, little yellow creatures that only spoke partial English and showcased about as much intelligence as a garden gnome – maybe less. They weren’t fun, at least for me, in the first film, when they were decidedly secondary characters, and they were even more annoying in the second, when they played a larger role. Now, because the universe hates us, they’ve been given a standalone movie, officially taking center stage for the first time, and bringing with them a whole bunch of marketing opportunities. Did you know Minions Tic Tacs exist? Well they do.

Minions acts as a prequel to the Despicable Me movies, taking place a few decades before the yellow monstrosities attached themselves to Gru (voice of Steve Carell). The film opens off with a brief history of how the Minions found themselves in the 1960s: through their own stupidity, they killed off every villain they admired. Now, without purpose, three of the species head to New York, Orlando, and eventually London in order to find a new supervillain to follow around. Their target? Scarlet Overkill, who is voiced by Sandra Bullock. No, really.

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That’s right. Sandra Bullock went from getting an Oscar nomination in Gravity to voicing a character in Minions. I’m pretty sure this is proof positive that there’s a problem for women over 40 to get good roles in Hollywood. All of the Minions, by the way, are voiced by co-director Pierre Coffin in a high-pitched, sped-up voice that’s only approximately 25% English, because if it wasn’t already annoying enough, making it almost unintelligible certainly gets there. But, hey, that must make it much easier for foreign dubbing, huh?

The Minions themselves are stupid beyond belief, which is what made them appealing, I presume, in small doses. Their slapstick pratfalls due to their lack of intelligence wind up as the primary method the filmmakers use to try to make you laugh. If you’re approximately six years old, this might work for a while – like, maybe 10 minutes, if you’re lucky. I was annoyed almost instantly. You know how some teenagers and adults instantly dismiss a movie because it’s animated? It’s movies like Minions that cause this reaction. They’re for small children and nobody else, and give the entire field of animation a bad name.

Minions is an unnecessary movie that is designed to sell a bunch of merchandise and provide a middling distraction for children too young to know better.

Of course, this decidedly child-centric approach runs contrary to the scene in which a human’s neck is broken, leading to his death, but who said we don’t need more murder shown in children’s movies? And there’s even a Beatles cameo, for some reason. It’s like the filmmakers were trying to let the adults get something out of the experience, but had no idea how to do it. Then again, beyond “Character A acts stupid and causes trouble for Characters B, C, and D,” they don’t exactly understand how to deliver anything to the audience.

Much of the problem comes from the Minions. They barely have personalities – one is baby-ish, one is heroic-ish, and the third is just kind of there-ish – they have no character depth or meaningful relationships or interactions, and they’re far too annoying to use as leading characters in a feature film. You can’t use them as the anchor; they’re the quirky supporting characters we grow to love because they’re only present for a sixth of the film. Then again, even the human characters get the most tired, cliche dialogue, so perhaps the Minions should be grateful that we can only understand them a portion of the time.

There’s barely any plot. Most of Minions simply throws its banana-loving creations at a new scenario and watches it play out. We move from New York to Orlando to London in a matter of moments, seemingly only doing so because staying in one location would be boring – even though all the Minions do are small variations of the same thing in each place. It’s a film with a quick pace, sure, but that just means that it feels more like a series of same-y vignettes than a feature-length movie. Oh, and it’s been narrated by Geoffrey Rush. The filmmakers somehow managed to convince Geoffrey Rush to narrate their Minions movie. Well, I guess anything can happen.

Minions is an unnecessary movie that is designed to sell a bunch of merchandise and provide a middling distraction for children too young to know better. It offers nothing of value for adults, teenagers, and younger children – except, of course, a scene in which a character’s neck is snapped for all to see. It’s a dull, repetitive movie featuring stupid, annoying characters who don’t have a shred of depth – or even much personality. They go through the motions, then go through the motions again, and finally do it all a third time, beating the audience into submission in the process. Minions is further proof that something that barely worked in brief spurts should not be expanded into feature length.

Bottom Line: Minions is the type of movie that provides nothing to anyone over the age of six, and even then it’s just a colorful distraction at best.

Recommendation: If you avoid Minions, maybe we can prove that making a movie designed purely to advertise a series’ merchandise isn’t something for which we will stand.



If you want more of Matthew “Marter” Parkinson, you can follow him on the Twitter @Martertweet and check out his weekly movie podcast.

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