In 2010, Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment released DESPICABLE ME, introducing the world to the Minions, the small, yellow, adorably inept henchmen of the supervillain Gru. The film was a big hit, grossing over $543 million worldwide. Audiences seemed to connect with the story of Gru, Margo, Edith, and Agnes, but even though these four becoming a family was the focus of the film, the real break out stars of the show were the Minions themselves. Kids and adults alike enjoyed the slapstick antics of the strange, gibberish-speaking, pill-shaped creatures that worked tirelessly to make Gru’s evil schemes a reality (often accidentally foiling them in the process). The studio took notice, and soon the Minions became the central focus of both marketing and merchandising for the film and its sequel DESPICABLE ME 2. Toys, clothing apparel, and really everything surrounding these films seemed to focus around the Minions, and now at Universal Studios, there is even a 3D ride which “transforms” park attendees into Minions. On July 10th, 2015, audiences will finally be able to see a film in which the Minions are the main focus of the film. MINIONS stars Pierre Coffin (as the Minions), Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Jennifer Saunders, Steve Coogan, and Geoffrey Rush. It was written by Brian Lynch, directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, and produced by Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy.
The story focuses on Kevin, Stuart, and Bob, three members of the Minions, a race of beings dedicated to serving history’s most despicable masters. The Minions sadly have a habit of accidentally destroying the masters that they serve, and after one such blunder, they are forced to isolate themselves from the rest of the world and start a new life in Antarctica. At first all seems well, but by the time we get to 1968, we see that without a supervillain to serve, the Minions have been driven to depression, lacking any and all hope that they will ever find a purpose in life again. It is at this point that our trio steps up to save the rest of their tribe, vowing to venture out into the world in search of the most evil villain they can find for them and the rest of the Minions to serve. On their journey, they come across bears, New York City department stores, and a family of bank robbers until they finally find the greatest supervillain of the 60s, Scarlet Overkill. Our heroes are elated, as it seems they’ve finally found a new home with Scarlet in her evil lair, but Scarlet is less enthusiastic. Can Kevin, Stuart, and Bob prove to her that they are up for the nefarious tasks she has in store in order to pull off the biggest heist of her career?
It goes without saying, the Minions have always been cute, and their appearance in this film is no exception. They are still cute, charming, and a lot of fun to watch. But is being cute enough to carry an entire film? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for in the movie. I know I’m in the minority on this one, but the Minions were always my least favorite part of these films, as I was always far more interested in the comedic supervillain rivalries and the notion of Gru gaining a heart as he learned how to be a father (I may or may not have a fondness for the Papa Wolf, Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and Took a Level in Kindness tropes). So when I initially heard the news that the Minions were getting their own movie, I was less than enthusiastic. That being said, I can’t help but admit that there was a lot I actually liked about this movie. The Minions are still adorable, the animation’s great, the voice acting is spot on, and the side-characters are all thoroughly entertaining. John Hamm plays Scarlet’s husband Herb, a hilarious, evil beatnik version of James Bond’s Q; Jennifer Saunders plays a badass version of Queen Elizabeth, and Michael Keaton and Allison Janney play the father and mother of a family of friendly, enthusiastic bank robbers on a road trip to the supervillain equivalent of Comic-Con. I would watch an entire movie about any of those side characters and the adventures and antics they would get in. Another positive element of this film is that it does indeed take place within the same world as the other DESPICABLE ME movies; it is a world where supervillains have their own subculture in society, where breaking into a career in supervillainy is a lot like trying to break into the entertainment industry. Villains network with each other, are often fans of one another’s work, and ultimately do their best to try to put on a good show when they try to pull off their schemes. They’re relatable people who just happen to be in an outrageous, over the top industry. I always found that to be an incredibly charming aspect of the world DESPICABLE ME took place in, and I’m happy to see it expanded on in this film. Without giving anything away, I will also say that I absolutely adored the movie’s ending, as the final sequence left me grinning from ear to ear (and I left the theater with a song in my heart). It was heartwarming, sincere, and in my opinion it was the perfect way to end this part of the story.
That being said, outside of the slapstick and fun side-characters, there really isn’t any substance to this film. Where the other two films had family at the heart of the story and had a definitive character arc for Gru to undergo, this film has neither of those elements to move the plot along. It’s essentially “Minions look for a boss and hijinks ensue” and that’s really all there is to it. This is fine if you’re looking for some mindless fun, but all in all the story itself has about as much depth as a puddle. The film is essentially a sugar rush, it’s fast paced and fun, but ultimately the result of empty calories. If you’re a kid, or a fan of the Minions, you will probably be entertained by the movie, but I can’t in good conscience recommend paying money to see it in theaters (especially at 3D movie prices). If you’re interested in seeing the movie, I would recommend waiting until it hits Netflix. For hard-earned money spent on animated summer films, I’d recommend going to see INSIDE OUT instead for more substance and a lot more bang for your buck.
What did you think of the film? Were you going bananas for the Minions, or did you find the movie about these little henchmen to be downright despicable? Be sure to let us know @TheMovieChickk!
Be sure to check out our quick review for The Popcorn Talk Network!
~ Megan Salinas
Follow me on Twitter at: @themenguin