"Minions" Is A Movie, Nothing Special, Just A Movie

By Scott Kurland

Film: Minions
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, and Geoffrey Rush
Rated PG
Director: Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin

I don’t know how the “minions” craze started. It was sometime after the first “Despicable Me” and a little before the second film.  Though no matter when it happened, the point is minion fever swept the nation. There’s stuffed Minions, short cartoons starring them, and even twinkies with their faces plastered on the label. Trust me, there’s nothing appetizing about the thought of eating a Minion. This week’s film is Universal Studio’s standalone “Minions” movie. With all the great PR this film is getting, lets see if it’s any good shall we?

“Minions” plays out like a nature documentary with the narrator (Geoffrey Rush) going through the evolution of Minions. Since the dawn of man, Minions have existed to serve the biggest and baddest villain they can find. After years of searching and with no new boss in sight, the minions begin to lose hope. However, three Minions by the name of Kevin, Bob, and Stuart (All voiced by Pierre Coffin) set off on a journey to find their new leader. What they find is a devious super villain Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock), and her inventor husband Herb (Jon Hamm). Will Scarlett prove to be the boss they were waiting for or is she something more despicable?

I see what directors Balda and Coffin were trying to do. It makes sense if you think about it. Minions were what really sold “Despicable Me,” so their own feature film made sense....on paper. I must confess I was less then impressed with this film, although, I did love the animation style. It reminded me of  a cross between the animation of Disney in the 80's with films like “The Brave Little Toaster” and early Brad Bird from “Amazing Stories.” It’s the crude animation that makes me give this film such a high recommendation. Illumination Entertainment has created a style that is unique and visionary. However, their story and characters fall flat.

I love Sandra Bullock, I truly do. With that said, they shouldn’t be advertising her as the lead. She’s in the film. She is the main antagonist , and I did not care for her at all. Scarlett should be one of two mentalities: the first being pure evil whereas the second is a redeemable Gru-like parent at heart. Scarlett could simply have been a menacing unredeemable monster. Either make her evil from the beginning or make it so you want to root for her. I could have cared less what happened to Scarlett Overkill. Keep in mind that this has nothing to do with Bullock as an actress, it has to do with how screenwriter Brian Lynch wrote her.

Lynch’s five leads Scarlett, Herb and the three minions all lack a purpose. I already covered Scarlett, but her husband Herb might be the most out of place. Jon Hamm has a great voice for this character, but Herb is just supposed to be a Q-like inventor tripping on LSD. Hamm has fun and brings something to the role, but if you’re working with nothing to begin with does it amount to anything? The answer is no.

I wanted to like “Minions,” and due to the animation and adult humor I am giving this a slight recommendation.The best parts of the film are either in the trailer or the first twenty minutes when the minions meet a bizarre family of bank robbers played by Allison Janney and Michael Keaton. If this film was all about Keaton and Janney living with the minions, then I would give this film an A. Sadly it is not, and thats where I realized the problem lies. The minions are a family, they need a strong family to thrive and play off of. Scarlett and Herb don’t play these characters at all. The animators try, but fail.

“Minions” is a harmless film. No one will be offended, no one will be scarred, they just will see a cute kids film. I still think this should have been released in March and not two weeks after “Inside Out” was released. “Inside Out” had a plot, a design, and the most inspiring story I’ve seen since “12 Years A Slave”. Minions is like “Caddyshack,”we get plenty of laughs but no one learns a valuable lesson in the end. There are worse films you could see than “Minions”, so I leave it up to you, the reader, to use your own judgement.


scott kurlandComment