Release Date: 26 June 2015
Running Time: 91 Mins
Director: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin
Starring: Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Alison Janney, Jennifer Saunders
Chances are if you know anyone under the age of ten then you already know all too well who the Minions are. First introduced in 2010’s hit animation Despicable Me, the Minions are mischievous little creatures who work as assistants for big time supervillains. Looking like a swarm of yellow Tic-Tacs in dungarees and goggles, the Minions were the breakout success of the movie, stealing audience affection with their high-pitched gibberish and chaotic clumsiness. After Despicable Me 2 grossed almost a billion dollars worldwide, a spin-off film for the Minions was inevitable. That the resulting film Minions will be a massive global box-office success is almost equally inevitable.
An origin story of sorts for the titular characters, Minions finds the little yellow scamps evolving from single cell organisms to aiding villains and tyrants through the ages. After following Napoleon on his disastrous campaign in Russia, the Minions find themselves stranded in the arctic circle without an evil overlord to assist. Initially they thrive as a community but without a master to serve their lives lack meaning and they slowly become more listless and apathetic. By 1968 the Minions are so utterly dejected that their very survival is at risk. So, in order to save their species, Kevin, Stuart and Bob, head out into the wider world to find a new leader; becoming entangled in the evil Scarlet Overkill’s plot to steal the crown jewels and overthrow the Queen along the way.
If you didn’t like the Minions in the Despicable Me films, then there’s nothing here that will persuade you otherwise. The central figures aren’t really characters, just giggling, nonsense-spouting props for comedy set-pieces. Their chaotic energy and infantile cooing was well served in Despicable Me where they were used as short, slapstick diversions from the central plot (much in the way that Scrat the beleaguered, acorn chasing squirrel thingy is in the Ice Age films) but with the responsibility of shouldering a whole movie, the Minions quickly become tiresome nuisances. There’s a limit to the amount of times that a Minion confusing a yellow object with either a fellow Minion or a banana is funny: Minions manages to both find and exceed that limit.
The combination of bright colours, silly sight gags and high pitched gibbering means that Minions will probably play well to a pre-school audience; anyone over the age of eight may find it a bit more tedious. The 60s setting allows for some pleasant looking retro-future gadgets and a soundtrack stuffed with classics but is otherwise largely wasted on tired old references and lazy visual jokes. Likewise, characters like the villainous Scarlet Overkill and her inventor husband Herb are bland and lacking in any character development. Despite being a bit rubbish, Minions is pretty much all set to conquer all before it at the box office. Perhaps this is appropriate for a film centred on silly, clumsy little things with dreams of world domination, but it’s a little bit disheartening all the same. ★★☆☆☆