There is an intrinsic problem with this film about creatures who exist just to serve. When it actually gets going, Minions finds it hard to hold down a thought, let alone a relationship.
So the tiny yellow underdeveloped things first seen in Despicable Me, who are literally barely understood by their master Gru, tumble about generally through America of the hippie ’60s, before finding themselves for some reason in Beatles England, where a commoner and known criminal gets crowned the Queen of England without anyone bursting more than a vein.
Absurd as the Buckingham Palace bit is, the imagining of Queen Elizabeth as a hearty woman who takes her dethroning with good humour and mug-fuls at the bar is the second best thing about Minions.
The best is the prologue, where the minions are shown as having served the biggest villains through history, right from the time they were one-celled organisms, and causing each of those villain’s unexpected demise — from T-Rex and Dracula to Pharaohs and Napoleon. Dispatched to Antarctica, they are now at the service of snowmen, who not surprisingly have little for them to do. A depressed Kevin (distinguishable for being taller than the others) decides to set forth in search of a new master, and is joined by Stuart, an aspiring rock star, and the little Bob (all voiced, in their unintelligible chatter, by Coffin).
It’s doubtful if young children who are this film’s primary audience may delight in either the Queen or the bad men of history. And that’s just one of the issues.
It is by accident that the trio of Kevin, Stuart and Bob discover about a villain conference being held in Orlando. They take a lift there with the Family Nelson (dad voiced by Keaton, mom by Jenney), who could have stretched into a better story but are quickly dispensed with.
Instead, Minions banks on Scarlet Overkill (Bullock), seen as the world’s first woman super villain, who has the villain con enthralled. There is little evidence of that villainy on display though, but for the fact that Scarlet can actually move in that super-tight dress and those super-high heels.
The minions somehow end up being picked as henchmen by Scarlet, who takes them to England. The foursome spend little time together before they are pushed into her plot to steal the Queen of England’s crown. Hamm is the voice of Scarlet’s inventor husband Herb.
The dungeons, the Beatles and some inspired songs later, the minions are back where they started. A lot more bruised.
Voices of: Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Geoffrey Rush
Director: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin