If you can’t get enough of the yellow pill-shaped creatures from Despicable Me, it’s probably a dream come true that Universal Pictures released a movie that features only these lovable characters. But alas, this dream will be shattered once you actually watch the movie.
Minions, which was released this summer, was cute, but that’s its only redeeming feature. Although this year we’ve seen our fair share of well-made animated films, like Inside Out and The Little Prince, this animated movie is the exception. It appears that Universal Pictures simply wanted to capitalize on the lingering success of Despicable Me, without putting any effort into actually making a decent stand-alone movie.
Minions is actually a prequel to Despicable Me, tracing the story of the minions before they meet their infamous leader Gru (the time period is referred to as 42 B.G., or “Before Gru”). The minions desperately look to a T-Rex, caveman, Egyptian pharaoh, Dracula, and even Napoleon for leadership, but end up killing off their masters one by one through their innocent but disaster-ridden mistakes. The tribe ends up in Antarctica with low spirits, until three minions, Kevin, Stuart, and Bob (all voiced by director Pierre Coffin) set out to find a new leader. They navigate the streets from New York to Orlando and eventually to London, getting in trouble along the way.
As expected, Kevin, Stuart, and Bob are adorable. We encounter scenes of them trying to eat each other after mistaking their bodies for bananas, flirting with yellow minion-shaped fire hydrants, and wearing lipstick pretending to be women—all the while yelling in their crazy, lovable gibberish that somehow carries much of the movie’s dialogue.
But as main characters, the minions can only hold their diminutive weight for so long. The movie begins to fall apart as soon as it focuses on something other than the minions. The plot is, quite simply, sloppy. At first, the “conveniences” that set up the story are forgivable. The minions serendipitously hitchhike with a family who bring them to a villain-themed conference and accidentally win a competition in which they impress a famous super villain named Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock). They are taken in as her henchmen, where she gives them one goal: steal Queen Elizabeth’s crown so she can live out her childhood dream of becoming royalty.
As the minions fulfill their quest, things get ridiculous. Just as a taste: one minion is crowned as the King of England; another becomes super-sized in a ridiculous Godzilla-like scene. By the second act, my attention was completely lost. I enjoy plot twists like any other person, but these felt like random scenes thrown into the movie whenever the writers were unsure how to proceed. There’s a point when plot twists no longer keep the viewer surprised or excited, and Minions far exceeds that point. Perhaps younger kids will have more tolerance for the dizzying, nonsensical plot, but any other crowd over the age of 7 should be warned.
Minions has grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide, exceeding both Despicable Me films and earning it the title of “highest-grossing non-Disney animated film.” Yet this has more to say about its excessive marketing campaign and fan loyalty to the Despicable Me movies than about the quality of the film itself.
If you’re absolutely obsessed with the clumsy adventures and slapstick humor of little minions, save yourself the time and just watch the trailer. It features most of the funny moments minus the drag of the movie itself.
Would have rated it lower for the messy plot and lack of any meaningful dialogue, but there are some pretty adorable moments from those minions.