Friday, July 10, 2015

Minions

3/4

Starring (voices): Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock, John Hamm, Jennifer Saunders, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Geoffrey Rush

Rated PG for Action and Rude Humor

The Minions are funny.  Steve Carrell may have been the star of "Despicable Me" and its sequel, but it was the Minions who stole the show.  They're funny because they are so silly and happy-go-lucky in the midst of the most dire situations, and they pursue the ridiculous goal of assisting a supervillain with the zeal of a fanatic, despite the fact that they are totally incompetent to do so.  It also helps that they are irresistibly cute.

I was wary approaching this movie.  As big of scene-stealers as they are, I didn't think that they lent themselves to a full-length feature.  They're better in small bites, and directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin know this.  The story, such as it is, is paper thin, and is just a clothesline to build up the Minions' antics.  It's just strong enough to give them a solid foundation to do their stuff without allowing them to become overbearing.  The directors accomplish this balancing act and thus ensure that the Minions don't overstay their welcome.

The Minions, as it turns out, have been around since the dawn of time.  Their sole existence is to serve the biggest, baddest bad guy they can find (the sight of them rushing up to a T-Rex to give him a hug is most definitely amusing).  But while they're definitely enthusiastic, they're also a completely liability to their masters.  Eventually, they're sent away and go live in a cave.  Desperate, a Minion named Kevin (Coffin) announces that he will go and find a supervillain for them to serve.  He is assisted by Stuart (Coffin), who doesn't know what he's volunteering for but soaks up the praise anyway, and Bob (Coffin), who is the only one who volunteers.  They're initial efforts are met with dismal failure until they stumble upon a hidden channel advertising Villain-Con (Comic-Con for villains), which advertises a special appearance by the most famous supervillain, Scarlett Overkill (Bullock).  They head there and almost completely by accident win a spot as Scarlett's henchmen.  Her task for them is to steal the Queen of England's (Saunders) crown...or else.

"Minions" is all about the moments.  There are a few belly laughs, but plenty of grins and smiles.  "Minions" is about moments like when the Queen body slams one of the Minions or when three of the Queen's bodyguards are hypnotized and turned into deadheads.  One of the reasons why the film works is because it moves on after the punchline.  It never drags on a joke for longer than is necessary.

The voice acting is surprisingly effective.  Pierre Coffin has voiced the Minions in every one of their appearances, and he returns to do so here.  And we wouldn't have it any other way.  Sandra Bullock is surprisingly effective as a villain, although I suppose it helps that the role is almost completely tongue-in-cheek.  The rest of the actors are unrecognizable but solid.

There's really not a lot I can say about "Minions."  It is what it is.  If you want Minions, you got 'em.

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