2015; directed by Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin; written by Brian Lynch; 87 mins
This is not a joke: I love this movie! I love the Minions! They were funny in Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 and – given their own movie – they are even more funny! OK, I admit, even with those previous adventures in the background, I still went in sceptical and slightly snobby but five minutes in and that intro, me, my folks and my sister-in-law were in fits of laughter! I have no idea whether anyone else was laughing because we were enjoying ourselves so much that we just disappeared into our own little bubble of childish glee!
The story is about three minions: Kevin, Stuart and Bob, who travel from their icy exile to America to find a new boss to serve under and they find one in Scarlett Overkill, the world’s first female supervillain who has plans to takeover the British throne…!
Honestly, the story is functional and the look of it is primary colours and fast-pacing but look: the practicalities of the movie are just background noise to having fun with the characters but the film does that with such irresponsible delight that it’s perfectly apparent that the makers, in particular returning director and voice of the Minions, Pierre Coffin, absolutely have a handle on this material. Consider the utter blandness of Despicable Me co-director Chris Renaud’s The Secret Life of Pets and you can see what a brilliant cartoon Minions is – and it is a cartoon – very much in the mould of Looney Tunes and The Beano.
Don’t get me wrong but if Pixar is a three course meal with all your requirements for a healthy, enjoyable diet, then Minions is lots and lots of sweets and custard and jelly and jam to make you happy and get sticky fingers everywhere! The crucial thing is – it knows that! It knows what it is and is content to be so. So many people I know have been put off watching it because of those memes that went around with life-affirming quotes tacked onto a picture of a cutesy minion. This just goes to show how grown-ups don’t understand cartoons. Those that posted the memes don’t realise that a minion would stick his fingers down his throat and vomit all over the place if he read such simpering platitudes! Those that wrote it off are all grouchy sods who read “graphic novels” where any fun must come with a stern face and an existential crisis. Blah! Blah! Blah! In an age when Charlie Chaplin only ever gets mentioned because of that on-the-nose political rant he did at the end of The Great Dictator, it’s fair to say that there is a distinct snobbery in the air towards slapstick*.
The characters themselves are a perfect mix of South Park-like evil little bastards and sweet-natured kids who look out for each other (notice the way Kevin looks after Bob). Comedies should, first and foremost, be judged on how funny they are and Minions is an oasis of silly, happy joyousness!
*Bless ’em, I love The Playlist but there’s a couple of digs at slapstick in children’s films in this article that smack of miserable grown-ups