They Were All Yellow
There’s no denying that the small, adorable and pesky minions stole the show in Despicable Me, and added a lot more laughs in the inevitable sequel, Despicable Me 2.
In case you’re unaware, the minions are a bunch of small, yellow, pill-shaped creatures played for laughs in both movies. Think of them as the Smurfs of this generation.
Think about it. The minions and Smurfs are single coloured entities that are not easily differentiated from one another, and viewers will be hard pressed to name them all, because frankly, the creators can simply dream up a new one each time the narrative fits. There is no female among them (Smurfette was not born a Smurf), and oh yeah, and there’s an evil megalomaniac and his pet animal somewhere in the background.
But can they hold their own in a movie by themselves? That depends on who you ask.
The essence of the minions is that they are as old as the planet, and their primary goal is to serve the strongest, most evil master they can find. Preventing that from happening though, is the fact that the minions, who number in the hundreds, are basically simpletons. They have no aspirations, but yet work well in unintentionally preventing others from achieving their goals.
The best example? They were followers of a 300-year-old vampire, which one would assume to be Dracula. While attempting to celebrate his birthday, they inadvertently drew the curtains, allowing sunlight to reach the undead master. Another one bites the dust.
And it is this ineptitude that gets played for laughs, a lot throughout the movie. The film focuses on three minions, who, after years of solitude, grow tired of their inane lives, and leave the brood to find a new master to serve.
I’m not sure if the filmmakers picked the best three of the lot, or if viewers can actually tell them apart, but Kevin, Stuart and Bob are the Three Stooges for those under the age of 12.
My three-and-a-half year-old burst out laughing each time the minions were on screen, whether it was because someone did something silly, or was the victim of something silly, said something silly, or reacted to something silly in a sillier way.
As a parent, I simply adored the way the movie invoked such a response from every child in the cinema. As the average movie goer though, I was already rolling my eyes the fifth time it happened, in the first 10 minutes of the film. But given the pedigree of the original films, what else was I expecting?
Overkill, Villain’s Convention?
The parts where my child didn’t laugh was when Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) appeared. In their attempt to find a new evil overload, the trio ended up at a Villain’s Convention and unwittingly became the (un)worthy henchmen of the mighty villainess.
For those of us you who might have caught Despicable Me and its sequel, you know that does not work in the favour of Scarlet and before long, the Mistress of Mayhem, along with her husband and weapons designer, Herb Overkill (Jon Hamm) have a massive throw down in the heart of London, over the royal crown.
By this time, the rest of the minions have arrived to help out their trio of brothers (though it is never stated how the minions are related. Are they a massive tribe of interlinked families, making them cousins, or are they siblings?)
And no, no one explains why the minions are all male. Again, this is another assumption, based on their uniformly unisex outfits.
I doubt that many adults will appreciate or understand the films, and it’s not difficult to explain why, since the minions speak their own gibberish language that only sounds like real words. In reality, the filmmakers do use real words, but from other languages, to populate the speech of the minions. (Keeps your ears peeled for a rather hilarious scene when one of them blurts out a Malay phrase.)
However, the kids had a blast at the screening I attended, and there is no denying that the minions bring a lot of young, innocent fun to them. Even though the grown adults making the film had their own hidden Easter Eggs that at times bordered on being sexual, I found them to be harmless.
And yes, the lovable Gru makes an extended cameo at the end of the film, as well as during the rolling credits, so do stay for that.
I’m not sure if Steve Carell returned to voice a child Gru, but if there is a sequel to Minions (More Minions anyone?), let’s hope they get someone with more punch to voice the main human character. Hamm clearly had fun in his role as Herb, but Bullock sounded bored, or worst, just herself at times. There was no playful aspect to be heard and instead of a colourful villain, audiences are left with a crazed female with a thirst for world domination. Yawn.