Film Review: Minions

It’s currently 32ºC outside, so why moan that it’s “too hot” as a table fan stutters depressingly left and right almost audibly sighing as it stirs nothing but warm air, when you can be blast chilled in a cinema, avoiding both the mid day sun and popcorn munching, always talking children, while watching Minions?

Why? Because it’s not very good.

The minions were destined for their own spin off film from the minute they stepped foot in Gru’s lair 5 years ago. And that’s my problem. Minions feels rushed. It’s been 2 years since Despicable Me 2 and for an animation of the scale of Minions that really isn’t very long. As a result, it doesn’t feel like a film that has had time and passion spent creating it, making it as polished and perfect as they could, instead lacking that little spark needed to make it into a classic and give it longevity.

Margo, Edith & Agnes - Despicable Me

I said that Jurassic World borrowed/hinted too much towards Jurassic Park that in the end it simply served to simply force a comparison between the two it couldn’t win and I’d argue that Minions does the same. Rebranding the basic idea from Despicable Me so much that you simply long for the source material instead. Kevin, Stuart and Bob are simply Margo, Edith and Agnes in dungarees whilst their story – searching for a home only to be manipulated into doing someone else’s evil bidding – a copy of the original plot.

That’s fine though because most children won’t notice, but it means the film needs to offer those who do, i.e. the multitude of accompanying parent’s and more importantly me, those hidden moments of comic genius. Paddington’s foot at the bottom of the stairs or Toy Story’s constant references to The Shining, that raise a smile and show that there is more to the film than a simple number crunching, franchise expanding exercise. But they’re not there and Minions feels muted as a result. Even the obvious are missing, I’m not comic genius but a balustrade in Buckingham Palace has been designed with an intricate work of grapes and vines – surely apples and pears would be the obvious fruits of choice?

Kevin & Bob - Minions

Don’t get me wrong, whilst the little touches are missing, the film does has some comic moments that work but too often goes for the obvious, lowest common denominator punch line or visual gag and simply ends up feeling immature. I’m fully aware I’m not the target audience, and my sense of humour runs differently now to that of an 8 year old, but it’s go to brand of humour just becomes a little tiresome after a while. Although I will never sing in the New Year again without thinking of Bob!

Aside from the comic struggles and poorly recycled plot, I do, however, have a major problem with the film that overrides all other complaints. The tone taken by it, through Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock’s character), on two occasions. To use an expression I dislike, I have “lived experience” of mental health issues (Anorexia) and the associated body image worries that are go with it. Minions is aimed at children. People at an age who are naturally naive and impressionable. And firstly, the film clearly, and without thought of the specific context it’s placing on the message, states that a lonely, bullied child can solve their worries, becoming liked and loved, by possession of materialistic objects. Which is not a good message to send out.

Scarlett Overkil & Herb - Minions

Whilst secondly, in a scene when Herb is lacing up Scarlett’s dress she clearly states “tighter, tighter, smaller waist, must look pretty”. Which to me is a shocking line to include considering the U certificate and target audience. I will accept slightly that Scarlett is “evil” and the villain of the film and thus, not somebody children should relate to or want to copy, but it’s during a section of the film where she’s the “Mistress” to the Minions and so in that context, their friend and thus the audience’s friend.

Like a lot of people, the Minions as characters I like. “Bottom” and “Banana” will always raise a smile, and in fleeting moments their humour has the power to leave me creased up but I just don’t think the team behind the film has done it the justice it deserved. I came away so disappointed because it lacked the depth to make it feeling inviting and as explained, while potentially overly sensitive, I have some serious issues relating to the messages and tone it sends out at times.

It’s a middle of the road film, that like too many spin offs, never bored but left me wanting the original.

6 out of 10 stars (6 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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