by George Wolf
We can all agree the minions were the best thing about the Despicable Me films, right? The little yellow orbs brought an inspired zaniness that elevated the otherwise average outings, becoming a big hit with both kids and parents in the process.
So why wouldn’t Minions, a prequel of their very own, be a thoroughly delightful installment that builds on all that promise?
Mainly, it just doesn’t feel worthy of the opportunity. A new story of how the minions hooked up with Gru presents deliciously wide open possibilities, but the ones the film explores land more like an early draft that needs re-tooling.
Geoffrey Rush starts things off well, narrating a look at the minions through history and the search to fulfill their destiny: serving the most nefarious villains they can find.
Eventually, the tale settles in 1968, when a minion search team (Bob, Stuart, Kevin) hitches a ride from a bank robbing family (led by Michael Keaton and Alison Janney) to the big villainy convention in Orlando. Once there, the 3 impress the infamous Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock) enough to become part of her devious plan to steal the Queen of England’s crown.
The Queen of England? Yeah, it’s a strange adventure that’s a bit skimpy on the charm.
With their unique build and gibberish language, the minions are sight gags just waiting to happen, and their screen time in the DM films took fine advantage. Minions just doesn’t, leaving you scanning the background quite often, searching in vain for some subtle silliness to pump up the fun. This film is more interested in spoofing music from the era (especially during the post credits scene), which just isn’t a viable trade off.
Bullock’s vocal work is also a letdown, again proving that successful voice acting is a distinct talent. Jon Hamm has that talent, and his enjoyable turn as Scarlett’s husband Herb only reinforces the memorable edges missing in Bullock’s performance.
Still, kids will love Minions, because the minions are easy to love. But like the Penguins of Madagascar, maybe they weren’t quite ready for a solo album.