Written by James Jones
Rating: 3 stars
They say you can never have too much of a good thing – a true motto, if the third film in the Despicable Me franchise is anything to go by. Those little guys in yellow who have an obsession with bananas and all things evil are back with a film to call their own, having delighted audiences as Gru’s henchmen in the previous Despicable Me films. With more slapstick gags, cute smiles and nonsensical conversation than you could shake…well, a banana at, Minions is a fun and satisfyingly silly affair.
Minions acts as a prequel to the events of the first two films, charting the rise of the minions from the primordial soup and their affiliations with the bad guys of history, long before meeting Gru. No sooner as the minions enter the service of a villain, however, they prove to be the undoing of their master. From tyrannical Egyptians to Count Dracula, the minions always seem to find a way to accidentally cause their downfall. When the minions lose the battle of Waterloo for Napoleon, they are sent into exile and it is there that these happy-go-lucky yellow chaps get rather depressed at the prospect of not serving a criminal mastermind. But one minion called Kevin has an idea to venture back out into the world and, along with his fellow minions Bob and Stuart, seek out a new evil master.
The trio’s quest takes them to London in the 1960s and into the service of super-villain Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock) who has a plan to steal the Queen’s crown and overthrow England. And here we have the bones of a plot which is, sadly, rather underdeveloped and which clearly plays to a younger audience than the first Despicable Me films.
The villains don’t feel as dynamic or inventive as in the minions’ previous outings and whilst there are some witty observations on British society (the British are far too polite to complain about being overthrown by a criminal mastermind), such comic detail never rivals the kind of jokes seen in films from, for example, Aardman Animations. Nevertheless, the film makers have approached the premise of Minions with an energy and enthusiasm which has to be admired, and there’s plenty to keep both kids and big kids entertained.
If you think about it, on paper, Minions was always going to be tricky to pull off. The film’s protagonists speak in 99% gibberish with the odd recognisable word thrown in (“banana!”) and to create an engaging and, importantly, funny script was always going to be a challenge. Despite this, the emphasis on visual gags, the loveable nature of the minion hordes and the interactions between Kevin, Stuart and Bob keep the film afloat.
Aside from director Pierre Coffin providing the voices for all 899 minions (imagine how many helium balloons he got through), the film features the stellar vocal talent of Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Steve Coogan, Jennifer Saunders, Geoffrey Rush, Allison Janney, Michael Keaton and, of course, Steve Carell.
Minions will delight fans of the goggled yellow people and it feels like a film which is worthy of their crazy, and often hilarious, antics. It’s nothing ground-breaking and it is slightly let down by its plot but it would be very difficult to leave the cinema without wanting to take a minion home. Never has tyranny been so loveable.