Dirs: Kyle Balda & Pierre Coffin
It’s a film full of the Minions, needless to say it would be hard to not enjoy this in at least some amount but I think there was potential for it to be even more enjoyable than this!
Minions have been on earth longer than humans and with one objective, to serve the baddest master they can find, but they just keep ineptly killing them off. So, with their race at a loss without a boss, Bob, Stuart and Kevin set off in search of a new villain to serve, setting their sights on Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock).
Although the film at times went in ways I hadn’t foreseen, I never really felt like it was completely venturing out of the box which it had the opportunity and potential to do. Still it’s a lot of fun, especially as I absolutely revel in the clever minion language (though I feel that may be better in smaller amounts), often it’s the random but recognisable words that pop up and make me laugh, think ‘bottom’, ‘papaya’, and ‘kumbaya’.
Abundant in charm and slapstick humour, what this needed a little more of was focus. I worry somebody just assumed it couldn’t fail because of the popularity of the minions and Sandra Bullock, rather than focusing on what is so good about them and structuring a film that uses their strengths fully and in a way that it being a minion-centric spin-off allows for that the others didn’t. Having these non-human characters who don’t necessarily need translating would have allowed opportunity for the film to be a little more random or surreal, something I felt the first part of the film was stronger on. Watching them acquire a string of bosses just to kill them off with boulders, bad construction skills and sunlight (not a spoiler as it’s all in the trailer) is wonderful to behold, and making more of that by maybe expanding on it a little could’ve been the basis for a full film that I would personally have loved.
The human characters are somewhat minimised so as to avoid it simply being ‘Despicable Me’ just with someone else in the place of Gru (before he turned less despicable), however it struggles to not feel a little like that. The minimization of Scarlett Overkill and her husband Herb makes them feel slightly underdeveloped rather than just secondary. The minions are inherently funny so there would always be some laughs, especially for kids, but this film does offer less of the other clever humour or dialogue jokes as seen before, certainly nothing that’s stuck in my mind or prompted quotation, unlike the human characters in ‘Despicable Me’ with such weirdness as ‘Squid launcher, oh yeah!’.
I don’t exactly know where they would take a ‘Minions 2’. This was a clear origin story right from the beginning of the species up to near enough the start of ‘Despicable Me’ for the small interim to be self-explanatory, so think a return to the minions featuring in ‘Despicable Me 3’ rather than another film on their own will be a welcome sight in 2017. They also work particularly well in shorts which are featured on the DVD releases, so more of those would be very welcome indeed.
Commercially this was a huge success, it was expected to make a decent amount of money at the box office but performed even better than predicted, temporarily going into the top 10 grossing films ever. I’m not quite as cynical as many reviewers may be about this simply being a money grabbing production, there’s clearly the audience there for a film featuring the Minions heavily and they’re almost always entertaining and funny. If you love the Minions then you’ll almost certainly love this, but if you want something more than just the cute gibberish-talking yellow fellas, you might be a bit disappointed.
‘Minions’ has been nominated for the ‘Best Animated Feature’ at this year’s BAFTA Awards to be awarded on Feb 14th. It is also available on Blu-Ray, DVD and VoD from the usual sources.