‘Minions’ Review: Overbearing Silliness
MANILA, Philippines – Imagine this.
You’re watching a comedy skit by a comedian who used to only perform as a front act for the main event. He was funny in his short sketches, which is primarily the reason why you’re there for his longer show.
He then opens his skit with a knock knock joke. It was somewhat funny. Another knock knock joke follows. It is sort of tolerable. After a hundred knock knock jokes of varying levels of funniness, you realize that an hour and a half has gone by and you have been bombarded by the same kind of humor. You feel somewhat betrayed. The comedian’s definitely a fluke, an unapologetic one-trick pony.
That is exactly how Minions felt.
The story’s a hoot until it reveals how desperately overstretched it is.
As far back as when they were still single cell organisms, minions, those mustard-colored pill-shaped creatures that served Gru in the two Despicable Me cartoons, have always followed and served the most evil villain they could find. Their vicious masters often perish because of some silly reason, usually provoked by the minions’ absent-minded prodding. (Minions to be back in McDonalds Happy Meals – see all 10 toys here)
They are left switching leaders through history, from Dracula to Napoleon Bonaparte, until they are left with no one. Aimless even amid an abundance of things to do, from choral singing to soccer, they become engulfed by some sort of terminal sadness.
Kevin, a tall-ish minion differentiated from the rest by his go-getter attitude, rose to the challenge to search the world for their next boss. Together with Stuart, a guitar-carrying free spirit, and Bob, a big-hearted coward, they find themselves in 1968 America where they are recruited by Scarlett Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock) to prove their worth as henchmen by stealing the crown from Queen Elizabeth (Jennifer Saunders). (READ: WATCH: Meet 'Minions' villain Scarlet Overkill in new trailer)
Sure, Minions is meant for kids and adults who prefer their entertainment geared towards the kiddie side. To its targeted audience, the cartoon is nothing but harmless fluff, an assortment of everything cute, stupid, hilarious and colorful things that have made these yellow sidekicks such charmers ever since they were introduced more than 5 years ago.
However, it is clear that there was an attempt by directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin to break out of the mold. Minions has visual cues and jokes that require a little bit more than a child’s comprehension. The world that the cartoon finds itself in is one that is riddled with references, from the monsters of those cheap Roger Corman flicks to urban legends involving Stanley Kubrick directing man’s first landing in the moon.
Surely, there’s a lot more wit in the cartoon than the defense that it is just children’s entertainment would have you believe. This is exactly why it falters. It betrays its own motivation of being purely for kids with its failed endeavors to bridge its grating humor to thinking adults. In the process, it becomes a confused item, one that throws its trademark jokes all over the place while dillydallying with gags that are out of place, connecting neither to kids nor to the annoyed adults.
No happy compromise
Minions works best when it is rabidly silly, such as when Bob pulls out a sword out of a rock and gets proclaimed as king of England. However, it is unable to sustain such sly hilarity and instead succumbs to being starstruck by Bullock, whose character’s Jekyll and Hyde-ish demeanor is not enough to match the wayward gags the minions incessantly deliver.
Simply put, the film fails to arrive at a happy compromise between the characters’ inane style of comedy and their efforts at making something substantial out of something that was originally envisioned as a short-lived skit.
It takes a lot more effort to squeeze authentic magic and awe out of a bunch of overexposed chirpy three dimensional emoticons. Minions is proof that it is a lot easier to squeeze profit. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. He is also a movie critic for Rappler. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema