It’s truly extraordinary how such an accident prone species could survive for millions of years, outliving the worst natural disasters, wars, famines, and their own remarkable stupidity. These little guys sprouted into existence and immediately hit their evolutionary peak, changing little over the millennia save for a new outfit every century or so. From King Tut to Napoleon and eventually Queen Elizabeth, the minions have seen it, lived it, run from it, and learned absolutely nothing.
Being a species of born followers, the minions make it their life’s goal to seek out and serve the biggest, baddest villain alive. Somewhere around the early 19th century, however, they lose their way, slipping into a life of independence and democracy. Vowing to cast off these confines of freedom, Kevin, Bob, and Stuart (all voiced by co-director Pierre Coffin) set out to find the tribe’s next boss. Thanks to an endless supply of dumb luck they eventually meet the lovely, charismatic, ambitious Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock). Scarlet is the perfect boss – until the minions fall out of her good graces for unexpectedly completing their assigned, impossible task. Kevin, Bob, and Stuart must try to win back Scarlet’s patronage before the rest of the tribe arrives and discovers that their promised overlord is on a minion-hunting rampage.
Like Wall-E, Minions has the challenge of telling a story without proper dialogue. Unlike Wall-E, the minions have gibberish at their disposal (actually a weird mashup of French, Spanish, and I think Japanese). As hilarious as it is to hear little yellow jellybeans cheer “Kumbaya” and seductively whisper “papaya” to a fire hydrant, the best part of Kevin, Bob, and Stuart’s communication is through non-verbal cues. Kevin is obviously the responsible one, while Stuart is a romantic teenager, and Bob a bit of a five-year-old. Most of Minions is spent running around metropolises searching for Bob who’s wandered off with his teddy bear and one or two adopted rodents. Their little family dynamic is adorable and comedic. My heart aches for Bob while I understand Kevin’s plight and Stuart’s need to express his individuality. Whoever thought yellow tic tacs could have so much personality?
If you have kids, they’re going to love this movie. The trio are constantly screwing up, tumbling over their mistakes, and impossibly making it out alive, thanks to luck and an immunity to physics. I found Minions cute, although the plot was a little forced. Rather than having a solid story to tell, Minions begins with great characters and builds the story around them. Like designing a house around your bathtub; the bathtub may look great in the end, but the rest of the house feels a bit forgotten. The supporting characters fill in the blanks but aren’t quite strong enough to hold the movie together or drive it forward with purpose. Except for Queen Elizabeth (voiced by Jennifer Saunders). She is stupendous.
Minions looks and feels like what it is: a side-kick movie. It’s a fun companion piece to Despicable Me but on its own it settles for being cute. Of course I laughed; who wouldn’t laugh at those goggle-wearing, lemon cashews bouncing around Buckingham Palace? Minions is a light, carefree feature that plays to the fans’ wish list, but as such, settles around a 6/10.