Minions (2015)

(Video on Demand, December 2015) It’s practically impossible to comment on Minions without feeling the need to grandstand about the yellow creatures and their forced omnipresence in 2015 pop-culture thanks to hundreds of tie-in products.  There’s certainly something to be said about Universal’s craftiness in pushing forward characters that don’t depend on any live actor or even particular voices to exist in seemingly endless franchising opportunities.  But that takes us closer to pop-culture commentary than movie reviewing, so let’s focus on the actual film.  Minions tells the back-story of the yellow pills seen in the first two Despicable Me movies.  From prehistorical unicellular beginning, the minions attach themselves to fearless leaders and do their bidding (although they are conveniently frozen away during WW2).  Emerging onto the colorful world in the 1960s, they are smitten by supervillain Scarlett Overkill, but their plans for eternal servitude go awry when the plot gets quite a bit less predictable than you’d think from the first few minutes.  Driven by a cheerfully anarchic spirit, Minions bounces from one sight-gag to another, culminating in a spectacular battle around London.  Some swinging-sixties spirit makes things interesting, combined to the film’s almost too-extravagant visual design.  The minions themselves are engineered for harmless likability, which usually works in the film’s favour.  Some of the side-jokes work well: There’s a fairly big and flattering side-role for an unnamed Queen Elizabeth II, for instance, and I’m not sure we’ve seen such a doting husband as Herb Overkill elsewhere in the superhero canon. It all amounts to an adequate family comedy, which is probably what the studio was hoping for: something inconsequential but not actively unpleasant, just enough to motivate a sequel.

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