By: Staff Writer Andrew Choi
The wild, oval, and golden creatures from Universal Studios’ Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 are back. The minions, who abetted the arch-villian Gru in the aforementioned films, star in their own feature which explains how they came to be. But Minions, directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, fails to live up to the success of the prior two films in the franchise, especially hindered by its poor, hollow script combined with a general lack of purpose.
Set in 1968, the film introduces the origins of the minions by narrator Geoffrey Rush. Though their main desire is to serve an evil master, they can never keep a master for long before something goes wrong. After making Napoleon lose in the Battle of Waterloo, the minions are exiled and they live in an icy, isolated cave for years.
That is, until a brave minion named Kevin steps up to find a new master for his kind. He is joined by fellow minions Bob and Stuart, and they begin their journey toward finding a new master. They attend a convention called Villain-Con in Orlando, Florida, where they meet the self-proclaimed “world’s greatest supervillain”, Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock). They are taken to Scarlet’s home in London, where they start their new life serving Scarlet, before a series of mishaps leads to calamity for the minions.
It is blatantly obvious that this film is a sheer moneymaking scheme for Universal Studios, as it lacks purpose. While both Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 had a central villain who threatened the main character Gru, Minions lacks a real antagonist. The plot is also poorly paced, as much of the action takes place in the latter part of the film and feels rushed. While Pixar’s recent animation Inside Out explored central themes like depression and mental health, there is no obvious focus in this flick either.
The fact that what these minions say is incomprehensible about 90 percent of the time is also problematic. Because of the lack of a true dialogue and the overuse of gibberish, the plot struggles to move on. Although the implementation of a narrator makes the dialogue more understandable, it’s clear that the minions are best left as part of the supporting cast.
Award-winning actress Sandra Bullock also fails to add flair to her character of Scarlet. She struggles to really find herself, and everything sounds incredibly forced.
Coffin and Balda are betting that the slapstick humor and comicality will make up for the bland script, but even the laughs do not triumph. The jokes got tiring less than a quarter way through the film, and the whole movie is a constant stream of boring, attempted gags.
Of course, it is the cuteness of the minions that Universal hopes will bring moviegoers to theaters, and it succeeds on this front. The never-ending parade of the curious yellow beings are undeniably adorable and visually appealing. The overall animation and graphics which feature bright, popping colors and crisp design are also well done – especially when viewed in 3-D.
In the end, Minions is not a movie you will want to pay money to watch, especially with acclaimed films like Inside Out still playing in theaters. The combination of an absence of purpose, a lifeless plot, and an inadequate Sandra Bullock makes the movie fall flat.