(Scored out of ten; below 5 = not worth seeing, 6 = OK, 7 = good, 8 = great, 9 = fantastic, 10 = next to perfect)
Family fun is a given going into this prequel to the Despicable Me franchise, but those looking for a little more substance may be better served partaking in one of the other children’s movies on the market *cough* Inside Out *cough*.
Featuring the adorable, banana-loving goof balls from Despicable Me 1 & 2, Minions tells the tale of how the tiny pill shaped people (sort of) came to be. Crawling out of the primordial ooze as single celled (and eyed) organisms to seek out the biggest and baddest of villains to pledge their lives to. The first 20 minutes of the film feature the minions jumping from one boss to the next only to accidentally off their master in ways only the Minions could manage. After thousands of years and hundreds of bosses the Minions attempt to live a solitary, bossless life. They eventually find themselves devolving into a state of depression paving the way for a few brave “buddies” to step up and bring the Minions back to their former glory.
This string of gags provides some of the most consistent entertainment the movie has to offer, unfortunately, the film changes direction and moves things to the big city. Kevin (the semi-brave leader), Stewart (one-eyed wannabe ukulele star) and Bob (possibly the cutest minion in existence) take it upon themselves to travel to VillainCon in search of a new boss to bring the rest of their tribe out of their slump. It is here that the film loses some of its momentum. Where the Minions provide sufficient hilarity on their own, as soon as the humans (who are severely lacking in the cute department) show up the laughs come less and less frequently.
Kevin, Stewart and Bob fumble their way into working for the world’s first female super villain, Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock). Through no fault of her own, Bullock’s Overkill falls flat and appears one-dimensional when put alongside the Minions or even Gru. She quickly sheds the façade of badass super villain and reveals herself as a whiny little girl.
Other supporting characters include the Queen of England, Scarlet’s genius/idiot husband Herb (John Hamm) and a legion of nameless goons. There are some fun cameos from classic Despicable Me faces for fans of the series to look out for as well.
The Despicable Me series stood out amongst a sea of children’s movies in part because of its adorable cast of characters and gags that both kids and their parents can enjoy. But the main reason for their success is their heart, which is ultimately lacking in Minions. The trio of Kevin, Bob and Stewart are likeable enough but outside of their group there is nothing to hold on to. The plot treads familiar territory after the initial set up and the characters inhabiting the world aren’t memorable.
There are a few standout sequences but they aren’t impressive enough to elevate the film from good to great. Bob’s love for all things furry and Stewart’s diehard dreams of rockstardom will forever remain with me. Yet on the opposite side of the spectrum there is Scarlet Overkill and her incessant whining that will quickly fade from memory (though I’m pretty sure she will show up again in the inevitable Despicable Me 3).
When the Minions are left to their own devices the film shines, once the human characters get involved, it loses its luster. There is still a lot to like here, just not as much as one would like. Children will undoubtedly have a blast watching the Minions get up to their usual mischief and parents will surely giggle along the way. But without the heart that made the other films such gems in the crowded children’s genre Minions fails to rise above the competition.
Overall I give Minions 6.5/10