Sunday, July 12, 2015

WHEN SECOND BA-NA-NA BECOMES TOP BA-NA-NA: "Minions" Are Light On Plot But Heavy In Adorableness [Minor Spoilers]

Given that the tiny creatures stole the proverbial show in both Despicable Me films (and have provided social media meme fodder for the years since), it was only a matter of time that the animated, yellow Tic Tacs that are the Minions wound up with their own, stand-alone film. 

The plot starts at the beginning of time, where the Minions (voiced by Pierre Coffin) evolve from single-celled organisms to a tribe seeking an evil genius to follow. When their efforts prove futile, they hide in exile for an unspecified long period of time, wasting away from a lack of purpose until minion Kevin, with the aid of Stuart and Bob, goes back out into the world to find a evil overlord worthy of following, Their efforts eventually lead them to 1968 New York and, eventually, to the evil Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock) and her swingin' husband, Herb (Jon Hamm), who vie for control of the British monarchy. 

The plot is threadbare, but in a film like this there really is no need of one as this film is not Despicable Me. In that film, the strength of the Minions as characters came from their non-sequeteur shenanigans, which countered some of the film's angst. That's not to say that there isn't any drama here; Kevin's quest is one of recognition as much as it is for the good of the Minions, for example. But the drama, such as it is, is minimal because the story really serves to allow the Minions to have a purpose to their manic, adorable antics for an hour and a half. That being said, the voice actors, which also include Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Jennifer Saunders, and Geoffrey Rush as the narrator, are clearly having a good time with the material. As Scarlett Overkill, Ms. Bullock is no "Cruella De Ville"; however, her performance services the story well though it pales by comparison to Hamm's Herb, who practically steals the scenes from her...and even from the Minions themselves a couple of times. 

The Despicable Me series of films' go-to themes of family, self-actualization, and overcoming adversity are revisited here, with more cute and cuddly results. If nothing else, this films prove that the Minions are the real backbone of the entire franchise. The film moves at a brisk pace, every moment entertaining. The animation detail is what you've come to expect from these films, i.e. detailed, bright, and enjoyable; even the most tertiary of characters are beguiling, with one in particular midway through the film being a particular standout.

In all, Minions is zany, madcap fun, replete with pop culture nods, crisp computer animation, and delightful vocal performances. It's really difficult to review a film like this because it is less a movie and more a string of vignettes that entertain to varying degrees. Regardless, this is a film that will delight both children and adults, and is guaranteed to have one leaving the theatre with a smile on their face...and an inexplicable craving for bananas. 


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