Review: Minions

Here are my two cents on the 2015 film, 'Minions', written by Brian Lynch and directed by Kyle Balda & Pierre Coffin (the latter of which also co-directed both previous 'Despicable Me' movies). This review is dedicated to JaysTop10List, who requested that I write it.

For starters:

'Minions' is the third installment of the franchise that began in 2010 with 'Despicable Me' and continued with 2013's 'Despicable Me 2'. It acts as a prequel (and spin-off) to those films, taking place mostly in 1968 before the minions' first encounter with Gru. It is the fifth theatrically released film from Illumination Entertainment (after 'Despicable Me' 1 and 2, 'Hop', and 'Dr. Seuss' The Lorax'). The next installment, 'Despicable Me 3' is slated to be released on June 30, 2017. It is unknown as to whether more films in the series are planned (as of September 9, 2015).

Critical Reception:

The film has received very mixed reviews that contrast greatly with the universally positive reception given to the first two films. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has received a rating of 54% (out of 100%), based on 175 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8 (out of 10). Metacritic has given the film a rating of 56 (out of 100), based on 35 critics, while, on IMDb (the Internet Movie Database), the film has received a rating of 6.6 (out of 10) based on the reviews of 222 users and 255 critics, and the ratings of over 65,000 additional users.

A brief synopsis:

The minions (all voiced by Pierre Coffin) are shown to have existed since the dawn of time (beginning as amoeba and evolving through time), always following the biggest, baddest, predator they can find. After following (and subsequently accidentally killing) what is probably thousands of various villain-like characters (ranging from dinosaurs and cavemen to vampires and even Napoléon), the minions find themselves in the arctic. They develop their own little world from within the confines of a cave and grow excessively bored with their lack of a purpose. That is until Kevin (along with reluctant volunteer, Stuart, and overenthusiastic volunteer, Bob) venture off into the unknown in search for a new master. Well, their adventures take them to Orlando, Florida where they attend Villain-Con (a convention where supervillains and henchman gather from all across the globe). There, they become the henchman for Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock), the world's first female supervillain, and travel with her back to London where they meet her genius inventor husband (Jon Hamm) and are ordered to steal Queen Elizabeth's (II) crown. All the while, the remaining hundreds of minions begin their journey to London to be with their three brothers. Of course, the results are monumentally crazy.

My thoughts on the film:

After being a fan of the first two installments, I found myself deeply disappointed with this 'Minions'. Firstly, there was very little for me to see that I didn't already see in the trailers (I hate it when movies make their trailers one big spoiler - I'm looking at you, 'Terminator Genisys'). The story was basically laid out in the previews (those who haven't seen the movies probably know the bulk of the narrative simply from the trailers), and the best jokes (which were not nearly as funny or as clever as the best jokes from DM 1 & 2) were all used up in the trailer. That whole "since the dawn of time" bit was almost SHOT FOR SHOT EXACTLY what we see in the trailers. I think there was about thirty seconds more in the movie. That's it. And it's not even funny anymore since we've already seen it a dozen times in previews.

If I was to single out the greatest disappointment I'd say it was Sandra Bullock's role as Scarlett Overkill. Instead of bringing her Oscar-winning brilliance to the role she brought a very stale sense of disinterest. It's another case of the trailers showing us everything we're going to see since her development goes about as far as it did in the trailers. She's lifted high onto a pedestal in the film for being at the top of the supervillain A-list and yet she's a total poser (I have never used that word before - it felt weird). I mean, from the very beginning we're told that her BIG PLAN is to steal a crown. So what? Gru wanted to steal the Moon (that's a feat worth basing a movie on)! Plus, once things don't go her way and the three minions find a way to (semi-innocently) double cross her and keep the crown for themselves, she turns into a clumsy, goofy, dimwitted stooge who basically turns into a villain from 'Home Alone'. And Jon Hamm in the role as her husband (I can't remember his characters name and frankly, I don't care) is completely forgettable (all I remember is that he invents semi-useful things and uses words like "groovy" or whatever).

On a similar note, I'd say that while the little, yellow guys are enjoyable as side-kicks used for comic relief (like in the previous two movies), they're not really meant to be the stars of the show. The quick, little slapstick moments grow a little tiresome after enough time and their unintelligible dialogue also becomes a little annoying (never thought I'd be saying this about the minions, honestly - I have always loved them). Plus, all of the funny moments (outside of those in the trailers, and even some that ARE in the trailers) are no where near as clever and as intelligent as what we've seen from them before (it's not all fart jokes, but its leaning towards that territory - just more childish).

Overall, I'd say that the whole film felt like it was designed to appeal to pre-schoolers and pre-schoolers only. Unlike recent family hits like 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs', 'How To Train Your Dragon', 'Toy Story 3', 'The Lego Movie', 'Paddington', and even 'Despicable Me' 1 & 2, 'Minions' fails to deliver the more intelligent humour that parents and kids-at-heart have come to expect from these kinds of films. It didn't help that I had worked late the night before and had received very little sleep, but I found myself fighting to stay awake during the film (something that I have never done in a theatre - no matter how tired). And given that I had such high expectations (that the series, itself, led me to have), I walked out of the theatre feeling extremely disappointed and deflated over the mediocre presentation that I had just sat through.

The highlight of the film:

Well, I would have to say that the very first moments of the film were the best. As the 'Universal' logo appeared on the screen, the famous fanfare was swapped out for a minions-sung version. That was very enjoyable. It actually sounded terrific.

Final thoughts:

I am really hoping that this movie was not a sign for the worse since I think that the 'Despicable Me' series is wonderful (1 & 2). What scares me most is that the ideas have stopped rolling in and that the writing is on a downward curve. As far as I am concerned, without great writing there is no movie. So, if the filmmakers know what is best for the series, they will not release the next film without making sure that the story writing, characters, and jokes are the best that they can possibly be.

I'll say again that 'Despicable Me 3' is slated for a June 30, 2017 release date (as of September 9, 2015).

Again, thank you for reading! I hope I did not just crap all over one of your favourite movies. If I have, I am sorry. But an opinion is an opinion.