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Film Review | Minions

Catering to the appetite for gleeful desctruction in both kids and adults, Despicable Me's Minions are unleashed on their own standalone franchise in a mischevious explosion of joy

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
8 July 2015, 12:41pm
Yellow lemming road: the Minions head on a road trip to serve the most evil master of them all
Yellow lemming road: the Minions head on a road trip to serve the most evil master of them all
That we live in a cynical age when it comes to most films in general, but mainstream movies in particular, is something of a foregone conclusion.

Most of the films we get served are either remakes, or sequels of remakes that are in turn adaptation of either comic books or bestselling young adult novels. Unless they’re spinoffs, of course.

The latter is the case with Minions, both a spinoff and a sequel from the box office friendly CGI cartoon Despicable Me which, having already spawned a sequel, now capitalizes on its eminently merchandisable and kid-friendly background creatures.

Both Oompa Loompas and Gremlins (more on the latter later), the pill-shaped, yellow lemmings are the kind of fictional creatures that both kids and adults can fall in love with.

They’re kindred spirits for the young ‘uns – I can confirm that much after attending a screening jam-packed with them – and adults will enjoy the escapist thrill of watching creatures with no respect for propriety wreck merry havoc for a couple of hours.

So if Minions is yet another cynical Hollywood production, at least its cynicism is limited to the outward details of its assembly line process: the corporate legacy of its source franchise, the ease with which you can merchandise yellow plushie toys, etc.

Because for the actual film, directors Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda just gets on with the business of providing a mischievous explosion of joy.

Even Minions started small. No, that’s not quite right. But the always-diminutive yellow lemmings had a pretty long track record of villainous servitude, even before they jumped on the nefarious bandwagon of the lovably vile Gru, whom you’ve met (and doubtlessly fallen in love with, despite yourself) in the Despicable Me franchise.

Having honed their skills on everyone – and everything – from the T-Rex to Napoleon, the Minions now found themselves without a villainous-enough master to serve, and fall into a deep depression.

 

But the Minion Kevin has a plan, for which he strings along his colleagues Stuart and Bob. The trio embark on a journey to 1968 America, with the goal to serve the world’s first-ever female super-villain, Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock)… a trip that in turn takes them to Swinging Sixties London, where they become embroiled in a suspect Royal caper that could spell doom for their gibberish-spouting, banana-loving species.

There’s nothing that makes me cringe harder than, “Oh shut up – the kids loved it and that’s all that matters,” when used as a rebuke for ‘whiny’ film critics who clamp down on yet another dumb piece of cinematic fodder. Frankly, so what if the kids loved it? Let’s face it – they tend to be a notably permissive bunch.

But in this particular case, I would hazard to say it’s justified. Nevermind the fact that – as became evident during the intermission of the screening I attended – the gibberish-spouting, accident-prone Minions are dead ringers for young kids themselves. Though hardly beat-perfect, Minions has an energy that never lets up.

Plot is treated as liberally as the many chaotic set-pieces that make up this chaotic jumble. Charged with securing the (then young) Queen Elizabeth’s crown, the attention-deficit-disorder ridden Minion trio are inevitably side-tracked by London’s myriad glittery attractions.

One of their number stumbles upon King Arthur’s Excalibur, still lodged in the mythic stone... of course, the Minion in question dislodges it, and of course, he’s crowned the new King of England by proxy. Because, why not?

Could Minions be the Gremlins of our generation? Not quite – ye olde cynicism, clamping it with a ‘U’ rating – but it gives you hope.

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...
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