Despicable Marketing

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Give credit where credit is due: a whole movie centered around living yellow pill capsules that don’t speak english seemed impossible, but Illumination Entertainment needs to make money somehow. So since they can’t make Despicable Me 3 any faster, they’ve giving the backstory of those adorable little henchmen of Gru and how they came to work for the most dastardly villains of the world. Why? BECAUSE IT’S IMPORTANT, DAMMIT (also because Minions make great toys for little kids).

According to Minions, the little yellow creatures have existed since the dawn of time. From single-celled organisms cruising through the ocean, rolling with the dinosaurs, helping build pyramids with the pharos of Egypt and charging with Napoleon into battle, the Minions have been around forever. But in 1968, many years had passed and the Minions haven’t had a villain to call their master in a while. After being stranded in an ice cave, three minions step up and set out to find a new master. Kevin leads the trio, Stuart plays guitar and Bob is the young one scared of the new world. They wind up meeting Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), the world’s most infamous villain, who wants to steal the Queen of England’s crown. The minions impress Scarlet and her husband Herb (Jon Hamm), who bring the minions into their fold and on board with their plan for world domination. Naturally, hijinks ensue.

One might think Minions is just another $10 distraction for little kids, and they’d mostly be right. Minions doesn’t give a crap about an interesting plot or character development. It’s not here to teach a lesson, just make you laugh. To its credit, the movie does know how to work zany humor and physical comedy. It’s like a really dumb Looney Tunes cartoon that, when it cracks wise, doesn’t wink at the camera like Bugs Bunny, but instead hurls the punchline at the audience like a pie in the face. Sometimes it works (the minions evading royal army guards and torture), other times it’s annoying (Stuart thinking yellow fire hydrants are hot girls). The minions’ gibberish talk, consisting of broken Spanish, French and other European languages, gets old after a while as well. On the flip side, the creators of the movie throw in some solid physical comedy.

They’ve also got some great voice actors for support. Sandra Bullock as Scarlet Overkill is pretty funny as the vein and self-absorbed Scarlet. She’s like that little girl who always wanted to be a princess and would throw a hissy fit if she didn’t get her way. She’s got great, hammy (no pun intended) support in Jon Hamm. He sounds like a Bond villain playing for the back row. There’s also a good bit with the minions riding from New York to Orlando with a family of crooks, with the mother played by Allison Janney and Michael Keaton. As far as animation goes, Illumination Entertainment may be the most kid-friendly form in Hollywood. Before anyone kills me in the comments, I’m talking strictly animation. Everything is so bright and sunny, never darkening the mood or making anything somber. Even in the moments where the minions are running for their lives, it’s animated in a colorful romp and not an escape from death. There’s no complexity or difficult emotions to process, it’s just sunshine and silliness.

That’s actually Minions in a nutshell, and it can be viewed as either a good thing or a bad thing. If one has the stomach for just nonsensical zaniness and are looking to keep your young (emphasis on YOUNG) quiet for 90 minutes, one could do worse than Minions. However, Minions is probably one of the most forgettable animated movies I’ve seen, especially one based off of better material. There’s no reason for this movie other than something to occupy audiences (and to keep Disney at bay). It’s a fine bit of fun, but is anyone going to remember this movie at the end of the year? What’s going to be so different about the minion plush toy from Minions compared to the minion plush toy from Despicable Me?
Final Verdict: 2.5 out of 4 stars

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