Review: Minions


DIR: Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda • WRI:  Brian Lynch • PRO: Janet Healy, Christopher Meledandri  • ED: Claire Dodgson • MUS: Heitor Pereira • Cast: Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Geoffrey Rush


While Minion’s predecessors Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 focused on the antics of Gru, the world’s greatest supervillain, this film focuses on, well, you can probably guess. Gru’s beloved little yellow henchmen are the be-all and end-all of this film, in their historic quest to find an evil master worthy of their service.

Things start off with the Minions’ evolution since long before mankind showed up and their insatiable desire to serve the biggest baddest creature around. From giant fish to dinosaurs and, eventually, to humans, the minions manage to mess things up for every master they serve and are forced into exile to live out their days in peace… and total boredom. When enough time passes, the minions are so depressed with their now meaningless lives that three brave/foolish minions, Kevin, Stuart and Bob, venture into the world on a quest to find a new master, and evil, villainous, despicable master.

When the three make their way to America, the year is 1968 and they manage to stumble their way to a supervillain convention where they seek out the most celebrated baddie the ’60s have to offer. The particular brand of the chaos that the minions specialise in follows them everywhere and the film rarely misses an opportunity to throw laughs at its audience.

Now, anyone familiar with the first two films will probably recall that the minions speak in a frenzied blend of different languages and actual gibberish, meaning that a great deal of the story relies on physical comedy and action to move forward. However, that doesn’t mean that this film should be written off as simply silly humour for kids. It’s fantastically silly humour for kids and some really intelligent cultural references and jokes which should sail right over younger heads and make some parents chuckle, if not laugh out loud.

The cast (yep, there’s a cast), includes some wonderful performances by Sandra Bullock as supervillain extraordinaire Scarlet Overkill, Jon Hamm as Herb Overkill, Scarlet’s husband, and Geoffrey Rush as a sombre narrator, with some wonderful cameos by Steve Coogan, and Michael Keaton. It also has to be mentioned that Pierre Coffin also manages to give the best voice performance (for all the Minions) where the words don’t carry any of the meaning since Vin Diesel broke our hearts as a talking tree. The performances all hit the mark and there are really no missteps in terms of story or entertainment. The biggest flaw I could find with this film is that the 3D effects were a little bit hit and miss, occasionally drawing attention away from what was actually happening and making it hard to focus.

The minions were easily the breakout characters from the Despicable Me movies and it would have been easy to tack on any cast and weak story to sell movie tickets and a lot of yellow toys with this film. What we got instead was a clever and hugely entertaining film with a lot of evidence of thought and effort put in. Minions is a film that tries to improve on its successors and, in many respects, it really does.

Ronan Daly


G (See IFCO for details)
90 minutes

Minions is released 26th June 2015

Minions– Official Website


Million Dollar Arm


DIR: Criag Gillespie • WRI: Thomas McCarthy • PRO: Mark Ciardi, Gordon Gray, Joe Roth • ED: Tatiana S. Riegel • DOP: Gyula Pados   DES: Barry Robison   MUS: A.R. Rahman • Cast: Jon Hamm, Bill Paxton, Lake Bell

Million Dollar Arm is a near sterling swing for the Disney team. The film is a sports drama centred around a struggling sports promoter, JB Bernstein (John Hamm) whose career has taken a nose dive since he became  self employed. The wild glory days of working for an agency seem firmly set behind JB. This stark reality is seemingly confirmed when all star basketball player Popo refuses to sign with him. JB’s lavish lifestyle of shiny porches, big houses and busty blonde models is being overshadowed by failure, bills and broken washing machines. There’s a hollowness to JB’s materialist dream, and this is really the thematic core of the film.

JB’s clutching at straws as to how he can maintain his lifestyle, he has an epiphany while flicking channels between X-Factor and cricket. The desperation in Hamm’s eyes as he flicks furiously between Simon Cowell’s face and a team of Indian cricket players is a a sight to behold. Sheer determination. Raw American competitiveness. It’s at this moment that an idea strikes home with JB, what if an Indian cricket player could be made play baseball? JB immediately recognises the potential, that by signing Indian players to American baseball teams he could create a vast baseball market in India. On the basis of this seemingly radical idea JB secures funding for a year and sets off to India on a steadfast mission to bring baseball to India.

JB and his team, which includes a former talent scout Ray (Alan Arkin), hold baseball trials all over India as part of a competitive campaign entitled ‘Million Dollar Arm’. Ray reluctantly sleeps his way across India from trial to trial, listening to hordes of Indians hopefully throwing baseballs in search of fame.  However, Ray is anything but hopeful, overcome with lethargy, distaste for Indian cuisine and dissatisfaction for the climate. As the campaign spreads there are no credible developments and the pressure builds for JB, he finds some comfort in a blossoming Skype relationship with his friend Brenda (Lake Bell).

But JB’s anxiety and Rays lethargy turn to cynical amusement when Rinku (Suraj Sharma) stands in a mongoose marital arts like poise. The absurdity of this image seems to encapsulate the futility of JB’s efforts in successfully finding any baseball candidates. But any doubts come to a crashing halt when Rinku, swings a speeding baseball. JB’s faith is renewed and the competition continues. Rinku and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal) win and get the opportunity to train in LA for baseball try outs.

In LA the boys are put under the tutelage of experienced baseball coach Tom House (Bill Paxton). As Rinku and Dinesh struggle with challenges of training and being away from home, JB is contacted by Popo who now expresses interest in signing with JB. JB shifts his attention from the boys to focus on Popo and consequently Rinku and Dinesh feel rejected. JB is forced into a position where he has to choose between honouring his responsibilities to Rinku and Dinesh or sacrificing them in favour of his business success.

Overall, Million Dollar Arm is a decent family drama, of which there has been a deficit of in recent times. However, it did have notable flaws – aspects of the script are highly derivative and clichéd  reinforcing the commercial quality of the”true” story aspect of the story. These perhaps diminish a sense of integrity which it could otherwise have borne. In addition to which, the representations of Indian people in the film were, by and large, little more than crude cultural stereotypes, something which could have been avoided by more research. Ultimately, an average script was saved as a result of the wholesome performances by experienced actors and the high quality production values.

Michael Stephen Lee

PG (See IFCO for details)

123 minutes

Million Dollar Arm is released 29th August

Million Dollar Arm –  Official Website