The chuckles and squeaks of Minions (AP Photo)
The chuckles and squeaks of Minions
Lexile

Sidekicks rarely shine when thrust into the spotlight, but what about a few hundred of them?
 
The Minions, having been the best part of the two previous "Despicable Me" movies, swarmed the screen in "Minions" this summer. As candidates for center stage, they were seemingly ill suited. Slavishly - if rarely competently - devoted lackeys, they're underlings by both definition and verticality.
 
They don't speak intelligibly, which, to be fair, isn't a bar all of Hollywood's leading men reach. Instead, they talk in a bright babble that belies their fondness for colorful phonetics. "Banana" and "pi§ata" are their kind of words.
 
Their unsuitability for the lead role, or just about anything else, is much of the fun of "Minions," a happy henchmen overload that largely succeeds in its simple mission: More Minions!
 
Directed by Pierre Coffin (who co-directed "Despicable Me" one and two and voices the Minions) and Kyle Balda, "Minions" begins in fine form. The little yellow ones are already humming the Universal theme as the film begins.
 
With Geoffrey Rush narrating, we get the history of the Minions, which stretches back across eons and begins with them - a curios early mammal - literally walking out of the sea.
 
But the evolution stops there. For thousands of years, we see, they've been letting down their evil masters, from a Tyrannosaurus Rex accidentally tipped into a volcano, to Dracula, whom they excitedly wake with a birthday cake and wide-open blinds.
 
The Minions have their own Ice Age, however, ending up leaderless in Antarctica. After a few hundred years, the joy of snow ball fights beginning to dim, three of them - Kevin, Bob and Stuart - set out on a quest to find a new supervillain to idolize.
 
Soon, they're on their way to Villain-Con, a riff on Comic-Con, only a convention celebrating the likes of Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), an evil world-conqueror in a beehive. The trio inadvertently wins a job in Overkill's entourage and they're soon enmeshed in her plan to take the British throne, along with Overkill's inventor, Herb (Jon Hamm).
 
There are, it should be noted, more ambitious seats of power to set one's diabolical sights on. But this is 1960s Swinging London, a colorful if over-familiar backdrop, and the goggle-wearing Minions could just as well be chipper Mods.
 
The irreverent slapstick unfortunately gives way to the kind of action set pieces that have now even corrupted children's movies. The bombast, though never serious, is still loud enough to, for too long, drown out the best thing the movie has going for it: The chuckles and squeaks of the Minions.
 
It also makes it harder to hear the other key sound accompanying the Minions: the laughter of children.
 
What are the Minions but stand-ins for kids? Mumbling half-understood words by the mouthful, they plunge headlong into any task, usually wielding a dangerous object they shouldn't. Nothing makes them double over like a good pratfall and they will insist on a goodnight kiss or bedtime story. Teaming and relentless, they will melt the heart of any guardian, even a supervillain.
 
Coming on the heels of Pixar's "Inside Out," an emotional wallop that mostly knocks out misty-eyed adults, "Minions" is a different beast. This one's for the kids.
"Minions," a Universal Pictures release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for "action and rude humor." Running time: 91 minutes. Rating: 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?"
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (38)
  • hpalmer-cel
    8/12/2015 - 10:16 a.m.

    The author means like in the movies minions act just like kids. For example how they don't speak properly and how they are always messing with something that they are not supposed to be messing with. This whole article is about minions and the different movies that they are in. I like this article because it talks about the minions and I love the minions

  • rowens-cel
    8/12/2015 - 10:19 a.m.

    I'm surprised that the same person who directed the film also voiced the minions! It seems strange to me that there's an actual person making all of the sounds the minions make. I also agree with the author's points about the movie: it wasn't meant to be a "good" movie, but a funny one that makes both children and their parents enjoy seeing it.

  • kbeatty-cel
    8/12/2015 - 10:19 a.m.

    In the movies, I think they try to make Minions like real life children. Children and minions both do some things they shouldn't, they both want comfort, and both want a family. Minions idolize their super villain, while a child idolizes their parents. Both need that figure to know how to do things. Both also tend to speak gibberish. Minions and children giggle over the smallest things too.

  • hturner-cel
    8/12/2015 - 10:32 a.m.

    The movie "Minions" brings great laughter and joy to many children all over the U.S. To some it brings more laughter and joy than others. As for some older children (teens) think it's kinda childish. It's directed more towards the ages of 4-12. Despicable Me one and two was a great movie! With the minions being the side-kicks they made the movie a little more exiciting and humerous. Who knew that the side-kicks would get so much attention to get a movie made on just them! When it is said that "minions are a stand-in for kids." in my opinion its saying that they are kinda immatating how children think and act these days. Not too serious but not way out of the ordinary hailarious.

  • qjones-cel
    8/21/2015 - 10:31 a.m.

    Some readers would take the small saying the author includes in his article extremely too literal. In my eyes, the author simple makes a comparison as in how children speak, play, etc... There are very few, if any, movies at this point in time where there are very young children with lead roles. Disney is doing a terrific job at trying to give the kids a voice with cartoon like, hilarious little yellow subjects. Personally, I love the idea of the minions and their showcases.

  • gaven-hab
    9/03/2015 - 11:08 a.m.

    It talks about how Minions speak a language that no one really understands and they are always messing around with things that they shouldn't be getting into. I personally liked this article because I agree that the Minions are the biggest part that I looked forward too while watching a Despicable Me film.

  • briannam-san
    9/18/2015 - 05:24 p.m.

    The author is saying it is interesting for kids

  • briannam-san
    9/18/2015 - 05:26 p.m.

    The author mean that the minions are interesting for little kids

  • briannam-san
    9/18/2015 - 05:27 p.m.

    The author means that the minions are interesting for little kids

  • siennas-sti
    11/02/2015 - 01:30 p.m.

    The author means by "minions are stand-in for kids" that the minions act like kids. They say that they act like kids because they are so funny.

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