Nov 9, 2015

[Movies] Minions (2015)

Despicable Me is not the first animated movie to lead to a franchise and eventually spin-off titles as well. And it is hardly the first time when the lovable sidekicks end up stealing the spotlight and becoming lead characters in their own right. It took a while for these little yellow guys to get this far but in some ways it almost feels long overdue. And sure, this is still largely a Despicable Me prequel of sorts, we all know that it's not about Gru at all.

Thus we come to Minions, a movie dedicated to these intellectually-challenged henchmen who don't even speak English. And yet they remain to be the primary focus of this movie and most definitely have the most screen time, even though this doesn't mean the most dialogue. And the movie still worked this regard, although not quite in the same sort of wordless fun that we experienced with Shaun the Sheep.

Perhaps the greatest contribution of this movie wasn't necessarily giving them more of an origin story, but perhaps more about helping more of us finally figure out which Minion is which, at least among the primary trio. Or maybe that's just me - they all tend to look alike after all.

Synopsis: Minions is a 2015 animated comedy that is both a prequel and a spin-off of the Despicable Me franchise. The movie grossed $1.1 billion worldwide, which is more than both of the Despicable Me movies.

The movie tells us that the Minions began way back in prehistoric times with an innate to serve a greater master. Thus their early efforts included following around a T-Rex and a caveman in terms of the prehistoric era. The movie takes us through time as we see their different masters and see how they seem to have a knack for causing more trouble for their masters than intended. After bungling a battle while following Napoleon, they decide to go into isolation and later fall into despair as they live a life without purpose given they have no master.

Eventually, Kevin decides to leave the hidden Minion community in order to seek out a new master and ends up recruiting the enthusiastic Bob and a somewhat reluctant Stuart to the cause. The trio eventually find themselves in New York where they learn about Villain-Con, a not at all secret convention for supervillains of all types. The trio figure that this is their best bet to find a new master for themselves at the event. The villain that everyone seems to want to work for is one Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), but she only wants the best to join her cause.

So first, major credits to Pierre Coffin, who voices pretty much all of the Minions in the movie. Seriously, he covers our trio of protagonists and he also voices a lot of the extra Minions we see throughout the movie. And as crazy as the Minions can sound at times, their unique little language tends to off just enough tidbits to still convey their sentiments clearly enough here and there.

But beyond the voices, what sells the Minions is the visual humor and the combination of vivid expressions and good old slapstick comedy certainly gives us a lot to work with. And while some of the humorous bits felt a little adult in terms of sensibility, I can easily dismiss such moments as comedic efforts that could have easily gone over the heads of younger viewers. And that's all that matters in terms of executing such movies well, right?

The overall plot was as complicated as it needed to be, given it was a movie primarily geared towards children. It still had stuff for adults to laugh at to, but the plot largely remained shallow enough for almost anyone swallow. Minions have needed a master all their lives. Kevin decides to find them a new master. They then invest a significant part of the movie into getting Scarlet to take them. High jinks ensue. Good times.

The movie was as long as it needed to be but certainly shorter than most big movies that come out these days. Then again, you can only stretch a movie that far, especially when your lead characters don't have a heck of a lot to say. In some ways the fact that their humor is a wee bit more complicated than the entirely silent stories of Shaun the Sheep and their sort is what limited its potential, and the production team knew well enough not to bite off more than they could chew.

Minions doesn't feel like it's bogged down by the original franchise at all and it does make for a solid spin-off effort. It was certainly a lot of fun and I'm pretty sure we're going to see more of these little yellow guys even without more of Gru. Thus the movie gets 4 colorful Minion moments out of a possible 5.

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