Movie review: Minions a somewhat despicable effort |

Movie review: Minions a somewhat despicable effort

A heap of minion characters appear in a scene from the animated feature "Minions."
AP | Universal Pictures


* * (C)

• Directed By Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin

• Voices of Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Pierre Coffin, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Jennifer Saunders

• Narrated By Geoffrey Rush

• Rated PG, Animation, Family, 91 minutes

In two previous “Despicable Me” movies, banana-colored minions made their mark by mucking up every task they undertook. Fittingly, minions are happiest when mucking things up in the service of the biggest, baddest villains on the planet.

Standing about 8 inches tall, minions take silliness to new heights as a confused, gibberish-spewing, goggle-wearing lot. When they serve a villain, then he or she succeeds despite their help.

Have I mentioned that minions are popular with kids and adults alike? On the heels of their success as lovable sidekicks, minions garnered their own short films, books, video games, sheet music and a theme park attraction.

So why not an entire movie? It turns out there simply isn’t enough depth to these creatures to sustain minions as lead characters. The film attempts to ameliorate this shortfall via the voice of Sandra Bullock as Scarlet Overkill, who along with her husband Herb (Jon Hamm) plots to steal the Queen of England’s Crown Jewels.

Scarlet makes the mistake of accepting three minions as her helpers, unaware the little imps will grab and try to appropriate the crown for themselves.

Much of the film is set in London, where the minions find themselves chasing or being chased by practically everyone. It’s fun to watch them zigzag through a sea of human knees or see them tumble through the air in their onesie overalls, but when it comes to dialog, well, let’s just say that it takes a minion to understand a minion. Murdering English is part of their charm, and it works until their speech is expected to propel a film’s forward momentum.

The insertion of various songs is intended to provide viewers a break. These pauses might help if the placement of these songs made a whit of sense or if the time it took to hear them was sufficient to be refreshing. At any rate, the plan goes awry because said songs are frequently sung in minion gibberish, such as “Make ‘Em Laugh” from “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Whatever they may be missing as a main attraction, minions are undeniably cute. Surfing the Internet finds minions remade as super heroes and as the costumed authors of various cartoons (i.e. a cowboy minion spouts, “So few bullets, so many idiots”).

I can only imagine the twisted ankles resulting from parents stumbling over their childrens’ minion armies, but the marketing ploy I anticipate most eagerly is the arrival of yellow minion Tic-Tacs — preferably lemon-flavor — so we can bite off their little heads.

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