Minions

★★★
A fun time. Who says we asked for anything more?
Movie Review #996

minions_ver2
“Hello, Papagena. Tu le bella comme le papaya.”
– Stuart the Minion to a fire hydrant

All those CaféPress t-shirts were absolutely right: what we really need are, in fact, Minions. In either “Despicable Me” movie, these cute creatures were by and large the most enjoyable moments. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t get enough of them, and I was pretty darn excited when I heard they’d be getting their own spinoff.

“Minions” progresses as freely as observational comedy. One moment, the Minions (all voiced by Pierre Coffin, the film’s director) are in their natural habitat of Antarctica in the 1960s. They were once a happy tribe, always serving an evil, villainous master (because, for those who haven’t seen the seminal movies, that’s what Minions do). However, they’ve ended up accidentally killing so many of their masters, and now they are left all on their own, with no one to bow down to. Soon enough, three Minions—Kevin, Stuart, and Bob—have ended up on a voyage to New York City, separating from their tribe by happy accident. They are now in a New York apartment when they discover Scarlett Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock) on a secretive TV ad that appears when one of them starts playing with the rabbit-ear antennas on the TV. They travel to Villain-Con in search of her, and it’s only a matter of time before they’ve become her servants. Her evil plan is to steal the crown from the Queen of England, but she’s starting to wonder if the Minions are truly going to help her with that. Despite their best intentions, they seem so inept in what they do that they might end up stymieing her every effort.

Kids will enjoy the escapade that pervades this story quite a bit. Admittedly, the constant free-spirited adventure does grow tiresome. A good chunk of the midsection could have been altered for the sake of something a bit more interesting. But in the long run, “Minions” is nothing more than a pleasant, entertaining, wholesome experience–and frankly, that’s all any of us wants out of the movie. It’s essentially the “Fantastic Mr. Fox” of mainstream movies. Kids will no doubt enjoy it for its fun and energetic factor, but much of the humor here is in fact sophisticated and aimed toward adults. The movie takes place in 1960’s New York City, so of course there’s some counterculture on display now and then. Let’s not forget that the movie also opens with the ultimate ‘60s love ballad, the Turtles’ “Happy Together”. The movie also benefits those who may speak a second language: while kids can appreciate what sounds like a nonsense language that the Minions speak, their jargon is actually a noticeable blend of English, Spanish, and French. Though listening to small yellow creatures interchange between those three languages is admittedly more ridiculous than hearing them speak a nonsense language, no matter what they happen to be saying. There’s also a few neat acknowledgments of high art, such as when Stuart tries to teach the other Minions how to hitchhike similar to Clark Gable in “It Happened One Night”; or when he hits on a fire hydrant by calling her Papagena, the love interest from Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute. And then there’s a few musical numbers. The Minions all get together, for instance, to sing the “Theme from the Monkees” and, over the end credits, “Revolution” by the Beatles. (Of course, they sing both songs in their vernacular.) I might have laughed the most, though, when Stuart received a guitar and immediately started shredding out Eddie Van Halen’s famous “Eruption” solo. That made the movie complete for me.

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