Review: Minions

Minions-2015

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

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Despicable Me

Despicable Me

DIR: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud• WRI: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul• PRO: John Cohen, Janet Healy,Christopher Meledandri • ED: Gregory Perler, Pam Ziegenhagen • DES: Yarrow Cheney• CAST: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand

Despicable Me opens with the underlying truth of all superhero capers, that the villains are often far more intriguing than our pants-loving heroes. The film immediately throws us into a world in which villains are as famous and hero-worshipped as heroes. Anything sound familiar? Already, Despicable Me has proved itself to be one of the smartest animated capers of recent years, casting a cool eye on our society to elicit chuckles from adults and including just enough to have the little ones rolling in the aisles. That’s before we even meet our protagonist.

Gru is a villain, an unsuccessful villain with delusions of grandeur and a ‘mommy’ complex, when he learns that one of the pyramids has been stolen and replaced with an inflatable one, he knows he needs to step up his game. How would a villain top stealing a pyramid you ask? Why, by using a shrink-ray to acquire the moon of course. As simple as it all sounds, Gru soon encounters a problem. The ‘Bank of Evil’ (queue disgruntled adult agreement) will no longer fund him, so he must go it alone. In doing so, Gru learns more about himself and the nature of villainy than he expected.

Animation is a genre which, until last year’s phenomenal Up, had become predictable. A furry creature would get into a spot of bother and eventually triumph and learn a great deal along the way. Despicable Me is one of the rarest gems in animation and is similar to Up in that it is effective for all ages. It is incredibly refreshing to see that studios are once again treating animation as a film in its own right. Despicable Me ticks all of the boxes in terms of storyline and manages to eclipse its own trailer as we realise that this is more than just another slapstick animation. Here is an animated movie with a heart as large as the moon Gru covets.

It seems that Steve Carell can do no wrong at the moment. Whilst his accent at first is slightly unnerving, as we get deeper into the film it becomes a mere quirk of the character. Carell’s comic timing with Gru is impeccable but what is truly special here is his portrayal of Gru’s relationships. Whether interacting with his mother, minions or three magnificently acted orphan girls, Carell shows a character who has more personality and love in his villainy than many superheroes show in saving the proverbial world. The important thing here is that Gru is no comic-book cut-out. He is three dimensional in all aspects. Here is a rarity in cinema as we are unsure of whether to laugh or cry. Our three heroines in the shape of orphans Margo, Edith and Agnes give profoundly affecting performances given that we are expecting comedy.

Despicable Me is a fabulous idea brilliantly executed. The only minor problem is the use of 3D, it’s almost inevitable that all animations have the suffix 3D tacked on at present but here we have a movie which does not require gimmicks or added-extras. We love our characters and we enjoy their journey and sometimes, that is enough. Gru’s minions will immediately have the children giggling whilst a relentless plotline that raises questions about our own lives keeps everyone else interested.

Despicable Me is one which should not be missed by children of any age.


Ciara Lianne O’Brien

Rated G (see IFCO website for details)
Despicable Me
is released on 15th October 2010

Despicable Me Official Website

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