The Minions shouldn't work. Anything designed to be this cute, endearing and funny should be annoying as hell, call it the "Jar-Jar effect", but after arriving seemingly fully formed with relatively little fanfare in 2010's Despicable Me, they have, nonetheless managed to steal the show from Steve Carell's Gru in their debut and its 2013 sequel. So much so that they now have their own movie, a prequel and an origin story, of sorts, for the yellow, denim dungaree wearing, weirdos.
Minions is only an origin story in the very loosest definition of the term, their original creation mostly explained away as they just evolved this way, so deal with it. Without any real reason, a large part of that DNA is that they want to be led by the most evil creature they can find. Unfortunately, for any prospective bosses, the other parts of their DNA contain a certain tendency for accident proneness, not at any risk to themselves of course, but that can prove terminal for whoever deicide to take them on. After a particularly bad run of luck, narrated by Rush, the minions settle down to live in an underground idyll away from the world. Without a boss, however, they become despondent pretty quickly and so it falls to one particular minion, Kevin, to venture back out into the world to find his buddies a boss, less-than-ably-assisted by music loving Stuart, who has no real idea if what he has been volunteered for and eager, adventure loving, (if a bit silly) Bob. Oh and not forgetting Bob's teddy bear Tim.
The ensuing adventure is less a story progression that a series of sketches all linked by the common presence of these three minions in 1968. They'll have some hijinks in an uptown department store, encounter a slightly mad family on a road trip, attend "villain-con" (essentially comic-con for villains, there's even a "Hall H" reference for the faithful), bump into famous figures of the 60's and try and get Scarlett Overkill (Bullock), the biggest villain around, to take them on as her minions, all accompanied by an era specific soundtrack. Getting accepted by Scarlett will require the completion of some tasks, with assistance provided by some gadgets provided by Scarlet's husband, Herb (Hamm), but really after this point things just get more and more silly. Importantly though, they do so while remaining entertaining, especially when Jennifer Saunders’ buck-toothed, have-a-go, 60's Queen Elizabeth pops up, although it's hard to say just how UK audiences will take to all the cod-Englishness on display here.
While boasting an impressive cast, many of the bigger names appear only as extended cameos. Keaton and Janney pop up here and there; Steve Coogan only appears for a very brief scene at villain-con while Bullock and Hamm weave in and out of the story from the middle until the end. Bullock is on great form as the temperamental Scarlet, relishing every purr and snarl as her moods swing, and Hamm is pretty much unrecognisable. The brunt of the movie however, rests squarely on the shoulders of co-director Pierre Coffin, who is credited as voice of the minions (perhaps along with some of those "other voices" credits?). Most of the movie is his sing song dialogue, sometimes consisting of total gibberish, sometimes with scatterings of French, Spanish and even Malay, amongst others, thrown into the mix. Along with some savvy writing, he manages to create characters and even character arcs for Kevin, Stuart, and Bob, and it never becomes wearing. Yes, the minions somehow manage to retain their charm in this third outing, whether it's due to their slapstick antics, weirdly mundane names, sunny dispositions (especially Bob) or just the fact that it's impossible to know how just they'll react in any given situation.
The Minions movie is almost complete nonsense, but it's good natured, enjoyable nonsense nonetheless.
MINIONS / CERT: U / DIRECTOR: KYLE BALDA, PIERRE COFFIN / SCREENPLAY: BRIAN LYNCH / STARRING: SANDRA BULLOCK, PIERRE COFFIN, JON HAMM, JENNIFER SAUNDERS, MICHAEL KEATON, ALLISON JANNEY, STEVE COOGAN, GEOFFREY RUSH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10