Ever wonder where those goggle-eyed Twinkies dressed in coveralls came from? Too bad; you’re finding out anyway.
Since the beginning of the world, Minions have existed. The male-ish creatures are driven to serve the biggest, baddest villain they can find (although no actual explanation of this is ever given). After accidentally killing every bad guy they’ve ever served, the Minions try settling down but find themselves aimless without a great evil to abide. Three Minions set out to find new a boss, settling for a dark mistress named Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock) at Orlando’s VillainCon (this really should exist). Unfortunately, Minions will be Minions and end up on Scarlett’s bad side; mandatory hilarity ensues.
The original Despicable Me sneaked up on everyone, but even with Steve Carell voicing supervillain Gru, it was the secondary cast of characters who often stole the show…particularly his lovable oddball Minions. The sequel was okay but mostly deferred to zany sight gags, somehow giving rise to a prequel solo adventure making even less sense. There is some evidence the original idea may have been nixed at the last-minute by the eleventh-hour inclusion a familiar character; happily, it gives some degree of continuity to the film rather than just a stand-alone absurdity, but it also hints at what might have been the film we really wanted to see.
One problem with making Minions the film’s focus is, well, how unfocused Minions are. They have zero complexity and are mostly at the whim of whatever is going on around them. If they’re immortal and able to bounce back from pretty much anything, it’s out of plain foolishness that they’re afraid of anything. Funny, sure, and frustrating for both heroes and villains alike, but the biggest motivation for these critters is whether or not they’re bored…never mind that being inflicted with them is a death sentence. The secret of course is that the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, celebrating the absurdity while providing enough reality to further the plot.
Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm were over-the-top as the Overkills while the hitchhiker-friendly Nelson family voiced by Michael Keaton and Allison Janney were fun as well; the biggest surprise turns out to be a tough-as-nails monarch perfectly voiced by Jennifer Saunders. Maybe the Minions have simply worn out their welcome, but perhaps they’re just more effective as proper henchmen rather than main characters; in the meantime, can we have more Gru and the girls? It seems lonelier in the summertime without them.
(a two and a half skull recommendation out of four)