As a delightful addition to the charms of Despicable Me 1 and 2, and as playful stars of their own little animated shorts (no pun intended), it was always guaranteed that the little banana-loving yellow tic tacs would get a film of their own. The only question was, what sort of film would it be? Would it be a family-friendly adventure crafted with love and replete with universal appeal (eg The Lego Movie, Big Hero 6 or indeed Despicable Me)? Or would it be a charmless, empty, kids-only corporate bore-fest designed to sell toys and happy meals?
Sadly, Minions is very much the latter. It’s lazy, where it could have been inventive; it’s stupid, where it could have been funny; and its boring where it could have been entertaining. Minions confirms that, as secondary characters, these chattering oompa loompas really can’t carry a film by themselves; especially one so inept as this. They need to be in support of better characters, or goofing around in the background, for the joke to work. Minions has human characters, but they are so charmless, dislikeable and poorly written that they fail to make up for Minions’ complete lack of ambition.
The ‘plot’ revolves around the yellow critters age-old quest to find a worthy and menacing villain to serve. As the trailers already gave away, this starts with an obligatory prologue through the only time periods Hollwood seems to be aware of: ‘dinosaur times’, ‘caveman times’, ‘ancient egypt’ and ‘the olden days’. Finally the minions wash up at present day new york, where they embark on a road trip to Villain-con (comic con for baddies) to finally hook up with the master they’ve been looking for. The master in question- Scarlett Overkill (voiced irritatingly by Sandra Bullock)- is quite possibly the worst-judged animated character I’ve ever seen. She’s repellent, obnoxious, unfunny and (incredibly) not particularly evil. Her dialogue is atrocious; consisting mainly of banging on about being ‘the best’ and coveting Queen Elizabeth’s crown. Her equally odious husband (Jon Hamm) simply adds to the sense of thorough discomfort. A good villain is someone you love to hate. These are people you simply hate to watch.
The adventure that follows takes a Michael bay philosophy in which **** just happens for no apparent reason. The Minions themselves do nothing funny or entertaining, they simply bumble along from one cretinous situation to the next and by the end, one no longer knows or cares what any of it was about. It’s just lazy and wretched and (as one member rmarked) borderline parental-abuse.
As a dad with not only a high tolerance for animated films, but a genuine affection for them, I am at a loss to understand how anyone could enjoy something so devoid of genuine merit (including Mark Kermode’s bafflingly positive review). If you’re one of those who thinks the Minions are just inherently funny, you might enjoy it. My kids liked it (or claimed to) however I noticed my 7 year old seemed extremely restless and rarely smiled much less laughed. Despite a much-needed cameo appearance at the end, I couldn’t wait for the nightmare to finish.
Kids deserve better, and so do you.