I can only assume that, if Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was released today, the Oompa Loompas would have gotten their own movie. It seems to be a basic tenant nowadays: Take something cute and marketable from a previous successful movie and stretch it out into its own. Madagascar begat the Penguins, Despicable Me begat Minions.
Minions tells us the origin story of Gru’s yellow little helpers from Despicable Me, the story that absolutely no one was demanding. Minions, it seems, have been around forever (and I think they’re supposed to be immortal or something) serving the baddest of the bad and moving from one evil master to another throughout history.
I’m going to stop right there for a moment…
The first five minutes of this movie are brilliant and represent the absolute highlight of the Minions movie. The opening is witty, funny, and a lot of fun and, sadly, that’s the movie’s peak. What looks like a fun historical romp through the ages is quickly dumped for a trite and inconsequential story about the Minions seeking out to serve a super villainess called Scarlet Overkill because she wants to take over England.
After that, Minions devolves into a hollow, inoffensive, and mostly boring movie boldly going where most kid movies go before… a place where the studio doesn’t try very hard to tell a story, but tries extra special hard to sell toys.
I will say that, despite the staleness of Minions, it is not terrible. I have to give credit where credit is due and say that the movie is funny and bright and happy and the vocal performances are pretty enjoyable. Sandra Bullock, for example, really needs to play a live-action villain because she was wonderful as Scarlet Overkill.
Minions is enjoyable, but it’s no where near as good or as inventive as Despicable Me… but at least it’s not as bad as Despicable Me 2.
The best type of youngster-targeted movies are the movies that appeal to kids and adults alike. Inside Out, for example, is one of those movies. Despicable Me was one of the movies. Minions… is not. This is aimed for kids and kids only and, to be honest, I’m sure that they will enjoy it. Personally, while I found it sporadically funny, bright, and containing some good voice work, Minions was, to me, the equivalent of drinking out of a chocolate fountain – a sugary sweet tooth-rotting mouthful of something that should only be taken in small doses.
Worse still is that Minions starts strongly and cleverly, but abandons what looks like an original and funny take on the story after five minutes. I saw another movie a few years ago called The Invention of Lying that suffered the same fate: Nothing in the movie matched the wit or hilarity of the first five minutes and when the following 85 minutes of movie feels like an ongoing disappointment, there are few things worse.