Following standout supporting roles in two beloved films, those lovable little Minions finally get the well deserved spotlight in this pre-Despicable Me origin story. Aptly titled, of course, Minions.
No buts about it, Minions delivers all the fun and mischievous hijinks you should expect in this highly anticipated globe trotting adventure starring the diminutive yellow fellows that will enchant kids and adults alike.
As we know from their Despicable days with Gru, Minions are here to serve as happy henchmen to the greatest villain of the time. In a hilarious opening montage narrated by Geoffrey Rush, we witness their birth as pre-cell organisms and follow them throughout the centuries as they play loyal side kick to a T. rex in prehistoric times, Dracula and even Napoleon.
Loyal and lovable as they may be, disaster inevitably strikes each master and the Minions eventually find themselves relocated and isolated in an Antarctic abode. After setting up their own remote society, the Minions sink into a depressive rut over the years with no evil master to serve and no real purpose in life. It’s Minion Kevin who stands up and decides to embark on a mission to seek out a new villain to follow, and he finds two loyal cohorts in rebellious Stuart and innocent Bob.
Hitting the high seas, the brave trio find themselves approaching the Statue of Liberty in 1960’s New York City. Life in the Big Apple is overwhelming, but they make their way around town. We witness them commit to their now signature fashion duds from an alley clothes line, adding those denim overalls to their Minion goggles. During an overnight camp out in NYC department store, they discover on television the current supererst of villain. They decide to seek out the headliner of Villain-Con in Orland0: Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock). Kevin and company head South to make the Minions true purpose in life known to this queen of mean.
Hitch hiking a ride to Orlando, they grab a ride with the Nelsons, an entire family of petty thieves on a road trip crime spree to Villain-Con. Madge and Walter Nelson are voiced by Michael Keaton and Allison Janney, whom add to the madcap adventure aspect of the film. The big convention itself is a hilarious send up of the geek pop culture mass gatherings that have elevated to mainstream acceptance. At Villain-Con the Minions meet Scarlet and soon enough it’s off to London in her rocket jet.
Once in the Overkill UK lair, she introduces the other half of her diabolical dynamic duo, husband-in-crime Herb Overkill (Jon Hamm), and reveals her life long dream scheme to steal the Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Crown. While Kevin, Stuart are Bob are recruited to aide the the Overkills plan, the rest of the Minions back in the Antarctic village are down and out, still living without purpose.
It’s in the middle act when the Crown Jewels heist plot goes into motion (and Bob legitimately becomes the King of England) that the film may get a bit puzzling for the youngest of fans. But Minions is never at a loss for hijinks, action, sight gags and the kind of elevated humor adults will appreciate.
There’s enough inherent globe trotting fun courtesy of screenwriter Brian Lynch to provide our three main Minions numerous standout moments to shine on their own to shine. Rebel Kevin takes charge, wide-eyed Bob loves his teddy bear, and Stuart’s affection for a guitar makes for a fun running gag (let’s just say the film works Eddie Van Halen’s legendary guitar solo “Eruption” into the unexpected amazing soundtrack).
Personally I always feel the more Minions the better. An army of them scampering about in comical ways is always unabashed fun, and there is now that much more to love about the particular band of brothers in Kevin, Stuart and Bob. Co-director Pierre Coffin provides the unmistakable Minionese voices and instills in them mischievous emotions which are as important to their distinct personalities as the top notch animation is.
In the best way possible, this winning pre-Gru Minions adventure never hits you too hard with high brow plot points or tugs at your emotions in a way a Pixar film will. Make no mistake, Minions soars as pure non-stop lighthearted entertainment and is an all-around perfect family film for the summer. Kevin, Stuart and Bob provide irresistible fun for adults and kids alike and you’ll be hard pressed to not find yourself saying the word ‘banana’ like a Minion for many weeks to come.
Minions hits 2D, 3D and IMAX theaters on July 10th.
REVIEW RATING: ★★★½★★
Director: Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin
Starring: Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney
Screenwriter: Brian Lynch
Studio: Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures
Running Time: 104 minutes