Minions (2015) ☆☆1/2 (2.5/4): More Minions, shall we say

minions01Are you familiar with those silly yellow creatures called Minions? If you have seen animation feature film “Despicable Me” (2010) and its recent sequel, you cannot possibly forget their many scene-stealing moments. In “Despicable Me”, they were the goofy workers/cheerleaders of their ambitious master, who was about to commit the greatest crime of his villain career but came to discover something more fulfilling than being bad. And then they became more active in their master’s another adventure in “Despicable Me 2” (2013), where some of them were turned into something purple, hairy, and nasty for our amusement.

Now, like those troublemaking penguins in the Madagascar series did in last year, our nutty minions also get the spotlight of their own in “Minions”, which gives us entertainment as much as we can expect from it. Mainly driven by jokes and actions, this mildly entertaining animation film is often hampered by its thin plot, but that will not be much problem for its target audiences, who will simply enjoy watching Minions’ slapstick misadventures or their nearly incomprehensible dialogues.

The opening scene depicting Minions’ biological origin with the deadpan narration by Geoffrey Rush is one of the funniest parts in the film. They originally lived in the sea at least 500 million years ago, and they have always been around any dominant species to serve and follow since that. After they entered the era of Homo sapiens, they began to follow anyone with power and ambition for domination, but, as shown from many hilarious cases, their bumbling clumsiness always led to mischief and disaster, and now they have settled alone in a wintry cave since their latest failure.

minions06Life has been good in their cave for many years, but then the Minions soon become bored and lethargic mainly due to the absence of a master to follow and serve. One of them, named Kevin (voiced by the co-director Pierre Coffin, who also provided the voices of other Minion characters in the film), decides to go outside to find a suitable villain to lead him and others, and Kevin is joined by other two Minions named Bob and Stewart. I have always found it quite difficult to distinguish one Minion from other one, but these three Minions are a bit easier to recognize. While Kevin does not look that different from many other Minions who all wear similar clothes and goggles, Bob is shorter in comparison, and Stewart has only one eye, though that feature is common among Minions. Seriously, I’d love to get the biological explanation on how Minions can look same or different from each other, but, what the heck, the movie does not even tell much about how they reproduce (considering their possible absence of sex, my best guess is that they reproduce asexually like those monocellular organisms).

At the end of their long bumpy journey, Kevin and the other Minions finally arrive in New York of 1968. After getting some taste of the American culture during the 1960s as going around the city, they come upon the news about the International Villain Convention to be held in Orlando, Florida, so they immediately leave for the convention where they may meet their new master. Thanks to a traveling family who is not as ordinary as they look on the surface (Michael Keaton and Allison Janney give spirited voice performances in their respective roles), the Minions arrive at the convention faster than expected, and, like many other bad guys attending the convention, they are eager to meet Scarlett Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock), an infamous villainess with considerable fame and reputation in her field.

With the technical assistance of her sidekick husband Herb (voiced by John Hamm), Scarlett has another diabolical plan to distinguish her notorious criminal career, and she needs someone willing to do anything under her command. While many attendees cannot possibly be more willing to volunteer, she comes to recruit our goofy trio by coincidence, though you may wonder what kind of potentials she could possibly see from them. They are quickly taken to her big castle which sticks out like a sore thumb near London, and then we get to learn more about her ambitious plot which involves with stealing the Crown belonging to Queen Elizabeth II (voiced by Jennifer Saunders).

minions07As Kevin and the other Minions inadvertently cause many silly moments in their clumsy attempt to serve their new master, “Minions” keeps throwing gags into its plot as the story becomes more absurd and outrageous. While that uptight British attitude certainly functions as the main backdrop for many jokes in the film, we get an amusing moment in which Elizabeth II shows her rather feisty side among her common people at a pub, and there are also several scenes involved with the Minions left in the cave, who eventually have to flee from their lair after their another disastrous happening.

Like many other Hollywood blockbuster animation films, the movie goes for a big action climax sequence with lots of bangs in the end, and that was the point where it became less enjoyable. While Sandra Bullock clearly has a fun with her mean villain character, Scarlet Overkill is not as memorable as the Minions’ future master, and that aspect is further emphasized around the ending (Too bad the Minions were not impressed much by Richard Nixon when they arrived in New York, by the way). The Minions are lovable as before, but I cannot help but feel that they are more effective as sidekicks rather than as lead characters. Maybe I can enjoy 10 or 20 minutes of them, but more than one hour is far more than enough.

Anyway, “Minions” will definitely satisfy you 1) if you enjoyed watching “Despicable Me” and its sequel and 2) if you cannot possibly get enough of these yellow creatures. I gave “Despicable Me” 2.5 stars, and I had to give the same rating to “Despicable Me 2” despite my enjoyment, for I judged that it was no better than the previous film. “Minions” is a lesser work compared to these two films, but it is not without fun, so I gave it 2.5 stars instead of 2 stars. It is not a bad animation film at all, and I will not stop you from watching, but why do you have to watch it when there are better animation films like “Inside Out” (2015) and “Shaun the Sheep” (2015)?


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