The chuckles and squeaks of Minions
August 07, 2015
Sidekicks rarely shine when pushed into the spotlight. But what about a few hundred of them?
The Minions flew on to the screen in "Minions" this summer. They have been the best part of the two previous "Despicable Me" movies. Now they are the stars of their own movie. And they seem to be a bad fit. They are obediently - if rarely capably - devoted assistants. They are underlings by both definition as well as their lack of height.
They don't speak clearly. To be fair, this isn't a bar all of Hollywood's leading men reach. Instead, they talk in a bright babble. It denies their fondness for colorful phonetics. "Banana" and "pi§ata" are their kind of words.
Their unsuitability for the movie's lead role was much of the fun of "Minions." So was their unsuitability for just about anything else. The film largely succeeded in its simple mission. That mission was more Minions!
The movie was directed by Pierre Coffin. He co-directed "Despicable Me" one and two. He was also the voice of the Minions. Coffin's co-director was Kyle Balda.
"Minions" begins in fine form. The little yellow ones are already humming the Universal theme as the film opens. Geoffrey Rush is the narrator. He tells the history of the Minions. It stretches back across thousands of years. It begins with them literally walking out of the sea.
But the evolution stops there. We see that they've been letting down their evil masters for thousands of years. Those masters include a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It is accidentally tipped into a volcano. There is also Dracula. They excitedly wake him with a birthday cake and wide-open blinds. As we know, Dracula can't stand light.
The Minions have their own Ice Age. They end up leaderless in Antarctica. After a few hundred years the joy of snowball fights begin to dim. So three of them - Kevin, Bob and Stuart - set out on a quest. They seek to find a new supervillain to idolize.
Soon, they're on their way to Villain-Con. It's a convention celebrating the likes of Scarlet Overkill. That character is voiced by actress Sandra Bullock. She is an evil world-conqueror in a beehive hairdo. The trio accidentally wins a job in Overkill's following. They're soon caught in her plan to take the British throne. This is along with Overkill's inventor, Herb. He is voiced by actor Jon Hamm.
This all takes place during the 1960s. It's setting is London. That makes for a colorful backdrop.
The bold comedy unfortunately gives way to action set pieces. The bragging is never serious. But it is still loud enough to drown out the best thing the movie has going for it. And that's the chuckles and squeaks of the Minions.
It also makes it harder to hear the other key sound that goes with the Minions. That is the laughter of children. What are the Minions but stand-ins for kids? They mumble half-understood words by the mouthful. They plunge headlong into any task. They are usually using a dangerous object they shouldn't. Nothing makes them double over like a good crash. And they will insist on a goodnight kiss or bedtime story.
They will melt the heart of any guardian, even a supervillain.
"Minions" came out after Pixar's "Inside Out." It was an emotional tale that mostly knocked out misty-eyed adults. "Minions" is a different beast. This one's for the kids.
"Minions" is a Universal Pictures release. It was rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America. Running time: 91 minutes. It was given two and a half stars out of four.
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What does the author mean by "minions are a stand-in for kids?"
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