Minions made big money at the box office this year. When I reviewed Home earlier this year I said it’s impossible to get mad at movies like this because they’re so thoroughly meant for small children and I am not that audience. But coming so close to the far superior Inside Out, it’s hard not to be a little mad at Minions for being completely mediocre. Yes, Minions is harmless, just ninety minutes of bright, scatological fun calculated to appease children, and do absolutely no more than that. The latest entry into Universal’s popular Despicable Me franchise, Minions focuses on the yellow blobs that trail after Gru and spout nonsense. The movie traces their backstory, before they hooked up with Gru, particularly focusing on their time with a supervillainness named Scarlett Overkill, voiced by Sandra Bullock.
Co-director Pierre Coffin, who created the Minions, voices the lead trio of Kevin, Stuart, and Bob, and he does deserve a lot of credit for giving these weird yellow boogers distinct personalities, and also for his ability to mash up several languages and utter nonsense and render it into dialogue that, while largely unintelligible, does make sense in context of scenes. That’s no mean feat. If only Brian Lynch’s script delivered a story worthy of such effort, but it doesn’t. Scarlett Overkill’s big plan is to steal the crown jewels and become Queen of England, an idea which is both vaguely offensive—the world’s first female supervillain is obsessed with sparkly jewelry, really?—and stupid, as that is not how someone becomes a queen. But I suppose “murder the royal family, usurp the throne” is too intense for little kids. So why not do something else? Preferably not involving jewelry?
There’s nothing memorable about Minions, a problem compounded by Bullock’s completely forgettable efforts as Scarlett. Whether this was just a paycheck role for her or if she simply doesn’t have the knack for voice acting, the end result is the same—Scarlett is shrill and annoying, not menacing and fun. And while the sight gags and running jokes pile up throughout the movie, nothing particularly stands out once you walk out of the theater. This movie is ninety minutes of money burning on a screen, but hey—Universal made it all back. But again, this movie is not for adults. Little kids will be entertained by the silly antics of the Minions, and every three minutes there is some new loud noise or bright color to keep them engaged. And then when it’s over, it will be as if nothing happened at all.