Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mediocrity Mires Minions

The Good: Generally good animation and voice performances
The Bad: Not funny, Light on character, Dull plot
The Basics: Minions is an unfortunately unnecessary film that begs the viewer to stick with it until its obvious resolution.

With Summer Blockbuster Season firmly upon us, it is the time of year when sequels reign. Perhaps the most risky sequel of the summer is Minions, which is a prequel to Despicable Me (reviewed here!) and attempts to grow on the momentum and franchise that Despicable Me 2 (reviewed here!) delivered for Universal two years ago. The strategy behind Minions is similar to that of Despicable Me 2, which is to hire impressive voice talents, as opposed to developing an impressive story or developing characters viewers will want to watch over and over again.

Minions follows the adventures of three of the small yellow creatures of the Minion race, leading up to their inevitable and obvious meeting with the villainous Gru. While the Minions have been background characters in the Despicable Me franchise, Minions tries to convince viewers that the little yellow assistants can carry their own film. Unfortunately, for all writer Brian Lynch's efforts, he fails. Instead of creating another Despicable Me sequel or a film that is truly about the Minions, Minions is a Despicable Me film where (save for the last few minutes), Gru is replaced by a different villain and the Minions (unwittingly) assist her in her plot for domination.

After a history of the evolution of the Minions, the Minions end up in Antarctica following the defeat of Napoleon (the last losing side they are on before they flee to try to be self-sufficient). After a brief period of prosperity, the Minions become bored and troubled. The Minion Kevin steps up to try to find a new home for the Minions and/or a new overlord to give the race purpose again. Reluctantly accompanied by Stuart and Bob, Kevin journeys out into the world, where he ends up in New York City in 1968. There, the trio sees a commercial for Scarlett Overkill and the Orlando villain convention. Determined to get to Orlando, the three Minions hitchhike with the Nelsons (who are bank robbers headed to the convention).

At the convention, Kevin, Stuart and Bob are recruited by Scarlett Overkill to join her criminal enterprise. After defeating all the other potential sidekicks, the minions convince Scarlett that they are the best and she takes the trio to the United Kingdom where she is planning her biggest crime. In England, the Minions help Scarlett steal the Queen's scepter, but before she can be made the new queen, Bob inadvertently pulls Excalibur out of the stone and is made king. Determined to take over England, Scarlett Overkill turns her attention to killing Bob and the other Minions so she can take the throne.

Minions is unfortunately bland, a fact I did not consciously acknowledge until halfway through the film when I realized I had not laughed once. Lacking both humor and charm, Minions utterly fails to entertain and my mantra while watching much of the film was "who is this intended for?" There are references for adults (not particularly funny) like Minions on the therapist's couch and reactions in England mirroring girls reacting to The Beatles, and the bright colors and slapstick gags might appeal to children, but it is hard to figure out who the film is geared for. The humor is not sophisticated enough to appeal to adults and it's not manic enough to actually entertain children.

The voice acting in Minions is acceptable, but given that half the lines are gibberish spoken by Pierre Coffin to embody the Minions, it is hardly one of the great voice acting events of all time. Instead, there is a moment of delight when viewers realize that Allison Janney is voicing Madge Nelson and the shrug one delivers when they realize Sandra Bullock's Scarlett Overkill sounds remarkably similar to Janney.

The characters in Minions are not horribly distinctive or compelling; it does not take long before viewers realize they cannot carry the film. That makes it easy to pass Minions by.

For other prequels, please check out my reviews of:
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Rogue One


For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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