The Minions are some of the most lovable creatures in children’s movies. Illumination Entertainment, directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin, writer Brian Lynch, and musician Heitor Pereira deserve high praise for making a film that is truly entertaining, uplifting, and insightful about human beings, with all accompanied by delightful music from the sixties. The very premise of the adorable minions searching all around the world for an evil leader makes one smile. And the fact that we can only decipher a part of what they are saying (made up of Spanish, French, English and blabber) and still know exactly what they mean is fascinating. Also remarkable (especially for young children who have already gotten a bad reputation) is the pride shown by those who get the label of villain.
Minions serves as a prequel to their appearance in the Despicable Me series, and here, Geoffrey Rush narrates their origins and history up to the 1960’s. The Minions have finally found a home they love after being banished to Antarctica (in The Despicables 2), but are distressed because they can’t keep a leader. They have lost their previous leader, super-villain Gru, and every time they think they’ve found a replacement, something happens to make him/her/it disappear. Then Kevin has a bright idea. He will go out into the wide world and search for the perfectly despicable leader and then they’ll all be happy and motivated again. He recruits two Minions to follow him: One-eyed Stuart and tiny Bob. They manage to get to New York City, but get a tip about Villain Con soon to take place in Orlando, an ideal place to find a despicable leader. It’s 1968 when it’s popular for hippies to hitch rides, which seems like a good idea for them, and after several futile attempts, they’re on their way when a family stops to pick them up.
The Nelsons (Keaton and Janney as parents) are not an ordinary family; they’re headed to Villain Con in Orlando, and have to stop along the way for funds. After robbing a bank in colorful masks, they elude the police in a wild car chase. Ultimately, they deliver the trio to Villain Con and part company, although the Nelsons will see them again from time to time. And indeed they do find a potential, Scarlett Overkill (Bullock) who takes pride in her evilness and has challenged a huge audience of fans to take a valuable stone from her hands, the reward for which will be a position as one of her henchmen. After a major skirmish among the aspirers, it turns out that Bob coughs out the stone to everyone’s amazement. Thereupon, Scarlett and her husband Herb (Hamm) take the three Minions to their swanky home and give them their charge. They are to steal the crown of the Queen of England, something Scarlett has yearned for all her life. And to help them, Herb gives them three of his inventions (mechanical limbs that extend out endlessly, a lava-shooting gun, and a cap). The cap is hilarious because it looks like a round hot water bottle, but when it inflates and spins around like a globe, it puts the viewer into hypnosis. All of these items will come in handy when the entourage travels to London to carry out the evil deed where they will encounter major threats of imprisonment and even death.
Minions has received only mediocre ratings from critics, but I enjoyed it a lot, and do think the general public might as well. My only reservation is the apparent acceptance of the characters’ getting away with deeds that are sometimes illegal, but these aren’t blatant enough that children will get the idea it’s all right to copy them.
Charge of the Minions.
Grade: B By Donna R. Copeland