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Movie Review: “Minions”

Posted by sanityinjection on July 12, 2015

Trying something new here. I very rarely go to the cinema to see a movie, so I thought I’d share my review of the new animated movie “Minions”, which opened this weekend.

First, let’s understand what this movie is. It is not breaking any new ground in the world of cinema. It’s a light children’s movie with slapstick humor and cartoon violence, but with many references geared toward adults. This movie is not trying to change you or make you think, but simply to pleasantly occupy your time. In that, it generally succeeds, with plenty of action and plot movement to keep you engaged.

“Minions” is the third movie in the “Despicable Me” animated franchise. While it doesn’t rise to the level of the original, it is at least as good as the rather mediocre second film. For the most part, it can stand on its own with viewers unfamiliar with the other films, with the exception of some scenes at the end that will be harder to appreciate. “Minions” is a prequel to “Despicable Me” set mostly in 1960s England. This choice makes for a lot of easy 60s pop culture references that adults can enjoy. For example, a scene in which three royal guards are hypnotized into performing a well-coordinated rendition of the musical hit “Hair” will just seem like a bit of random silly fun to kids, but also tickles the adult funny bone. There are also subtle homages to a wide range of films including “March of the Penguins”, “Ratatouille”, “The Wizard of Oz”, and “Vacation”. Moviegoers who sit through all of the credits are rewarded with a music video at the end featuring almost everyone in the entire movie.

Much of the fun of the movie naturally comes from the minions themselves (voiced by director Pierre Coffin) and their “Minionese” language, which for all its gibberish is largely understandable through context. I found it particularly fun trying to pick out the words and phrases from actual languages that are incorporated in their babble, including French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Hebrew, and probably others.

The marquee name in this movie is Sandra Bullock, who gets to chew a little scenery as the main villain of the piece (the appropriately named Scarlet Overkill), but whose considerable talent is hardly tested here. In addition to Bullock’s character, a second strong female character is none other than Queen Elizabeth, voiced by Jennifer Saunders. Generally, however, the acting talent is pretty irrelevant; much like a “Chipmunks” movie, it’s all about Coffin’s minions.

“Minions” doesn’t hit too many sour notes, though one scene in which the minions are depicted creating a short human bridge from Australia to India will ring false to anyone with a basic grasp of geography. It lives up to the “fun for the whole family” label that almost every children’s movie seeks, but not all realize. There are a lot worse ways to kill 90 minutes on a hot summer day. My rating: 3 out of 4 stars.

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