Alex Reviews Minions - A Horrible, Lazy, Commercial Cash-In

The Despicable Me spinoff is as desperate as it is unfunny.

Rating: ˜… Early on in Minions, three of the jabbering yellow blobs realise that to continue their quest to find a master they need to head to Orlando. €œOrlando€ they scream as they write €œOrlando€ on a sign so they can hitchhike to Orlando. Orlando, Orlando, Orlando. They are going to Orlando and you bloody well know it. The gang want to visit Villain-Con (this is the sixties, so Orlando is still a cesspit, apparently), but the Florida city€™s name is clearly being dropped to plant the home of Universal Studios in innocent children€™s heads. This is the key to the problem at the heart of Minions. It€™s not been made because someone thought there was a story to tell about the hench-things from Despicable Me. And nobody's stepped in to lend such a cynical concept worth. Instead, right from the jabbering cover of the Universal Pictures opening logo, it€™s clear this is a branding exercise that exists purely to immortalise the Minions as pop culture staples. Even before this Despicable Me spinoff came along, the Minions were everywhere. The dungarees and goggles have been slapped on everything imaginable - a Jungle Run rip-off, their own Haribo brand and more plushies at fairground stalls than you can shake a dook-hook at, the merchandise saturation makes George Lucas€™ efforts look positively lazy.
And that€™s all Minions (the movie) serves to extend. Want a plot? Sorry, there€™s only a vague story that has no character motivation behind it. But look, it has Minions! Want character? Sorry, the personality of the three heroes only go as far their height and number of eyes. But look, they€™re Minions. Want jokes? Sorry, it€™s so desperate that even the funny bits from the trailer are neutered from over-explanation. But at least it€™s Minions and... wait, what? That€™s right - in what is probably its biggest crime, Minions isn€™t even funny. It tries and tries, seemingly wanting for something akin to the endless zany ridiculousness of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (the geniuses behind recent animation highlights Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and The Lego Movie), but can€™t commit. It€™s never anything close to the logical silliness of Lego or Meatballs, instead just a standard A-B-C narrative with a few, out-of-place stupid moments. And it's not the good kind of stupid. When the Minions aren€™t just talking in pidgin-gibberish, the film is either regurgitating moments from all manner of better comedies or lazily trotting out stereotypes without ever trying for novel observations; much of the film is set in London, so the same €œthe English always drink tea€ rib-tickler is used about a dozen times. It almost comes across as a heightened reality, but is so empty and desperate that the occasional moments that work (and they're more infrequent than you€™d expect) feel like an accident.
In a year when Pixar are delivering one of their smartest films ever, this all just feels insulting. Aside from the extended Orlando mention (and, surely, Villain-Con, which has its main attraction in Hall H, should actually be in San Diego), the film skirts away from smarts at every turn; even though the team once served Napoleon and a hero later finds themselves on Nelson€™s column, there is zero attempt to link the two. In that vein, you have to imagine the film is only set in the late-sixties so they can do a joke about faking the Moon landing and have an Abbey Road cameo (and those moments are as unfunny as they are simplistically obvious). I was never rolling about in the aisles during the first two Despicable Me films, and really didn€™t like how many imitators the Minions instantaneously sparked, but I did at least appreciate their charm. Now I am totally spent. With this vapid movie, which has captured the imaginations of children and beyond before it€™s even released in all worldwide territories, we€™ve past the point of no return. There€™s now no way the Minions will be remembered as a silly trend that lasts a couple of years we all regret in a decade€™s time. No, they€™re an inescapable cultural force, a Generation Z equivalent of Woody and Buzz or, even worse in terms of dominance, Looney Tunes. Forget a never ending stream of superheroes or the dredging up of long-dead nostalgia properties; this is the real death-knell of modern cinema. Oh well. Who wants to come to Universal Studios Orlando with me? What did you think of Minions? Agree with this review or did you love it? Share your thoughts down in the comments.
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Film Editor (2014-2016). Loves The Usual Suspects. Hates Transformers 2. Everything else lies somewhere in the middle. Once met the Chuckle Brothers.