Minions Parent Review
There is only one word to describe it: Despicable.
If you are a fan of the little yellow creatures that appeared in the films Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2, then you will undoubtedly be curious to see what the screenwriters have done with these characters now that they are the stars of their own movie. There is only one word to describe it: Despicable.
In part the problem lies with the premise of the story. We already know from watching the pervious animations that the munchkin-sized critters are the workforce of an evil mastermind. This prequel sets out to tell us why. However the idea of being the henchmen for the dastardly deeds of criminals is a hard thing to sell in a children’s flick, no matter how much you attempt to sugarcoat it in silly antics and slapstick comedy. It only worked in the first two films because the bad guy turned out to be a good guy, and because we believed the Minions were too naïve to really understand the illegal nature of the high-tech thievery.
Such is not the case this time around. Beginning at the opening credits we learn the Minions evolved from single-celled minnows to their presently “advanced” bumbling state by following the fittest life form they could find. From big fish, to T-Rex, to Neanderthal, to the Pharos, to Dracula and even Napoleon, the saffron swarm has loyally served—and accidentally destroyed, each master. And what they have learned over time is that they can only be happy if they have a bad boss to get behind.
Sent to find their next leader, we meet Kevin, Bob and Stuart (all the incoherent mutterings of the Minions are voiced by Pierre Coffin). The trio eventually stumbles upon Scarlet Overkill (voice of Sandra Bullock), a villain extraordinaire with a few fancy weapons tucked under her skirt. Through another series of unplanned-yet-fortuitous events, they convince the femme fatal that they are the right team for her diabolical doings. So she whisks them off to London, England where she unveils a plot to steal the crown of Queen Elizabeth (voice of Jennifer Saunders). However, when their bungling jeopardizes her plans, Scarlet sees red and the Minions are forced to face the wrath of a woman scorned.
Although children may be willing to overlook the tediousness of the repetitive scenes involving idiots unknowingly doing something that saves the day, their parents aren’t likely to miss the ever-increasing violence in each scenario. It might be humorous when the dinosaur meets his demise after the minions unintentionally knock him over a cliff, or when they misread a blueprint and drop a pyramid on an ambitious despot. But the chuckles get a bit thin when a family on vacation turns out to be bank robbers teaching their kids the tricks of the trade, or when a bedtime story ends with death threats. And it is really no laughing matter when the boys are locked in a dungeon and a masked man straps them to the rack and stings them up in a noose – even if it turns out their bodies are more flexible than we thought, or that they can slide out of the hangman’s rope without injury. I suspect as well that more than just British viewers will be offended with the depiction of the Queen as a sore loser who gets drunk at the pub.
While the screenplay attempts to put in some gags for the adults (like spoofing the hippy era in which the tale is set, and re-enacting iconic scenes like the Beatles crossing Abby Road), this genius will be lost on the target audience. For the younger crowd, some sexual innuendo, constant peril and mean-spirited action will be an unpleasant surprise. There is no charm to mitigate the depictions of killing or soften the murderous motives of the characters involved. And that will be a big disappointment for fans of this formerly funny, heartwarming franchise.Directed by Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda. Starring Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm. Running time: 91 minutes. Updated May 13, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Minions here.
Minions Parents Guide
How does this film glamorize crime? How does it try to make criminals look like heroes? Why do the Minions worship these villains? Why does their hero worship not come off as charming as it did in the first two films in this franchise?
Frome the Studio: The story of Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s Minions begins at the dawn of time. Starting as single-celled yellow organisms, Minions evolve through the ages, perpetually serving the most despicable of masters. After accidentally killing off so many of them—from T. rex to Napoleon—the Minions find themselves without a master to serve and fall into a deep depression. But one Minion named Kevin has a plan, and he—alongside teenage rebel Stuart and lovable little Bob—ventures out into the world to find a new evil boss for his brethren to follow.
The trio embarks upon an adventure that ultimately leads them to their next potential master, Scarlet Overkill (Academy Award® winner Sandra Bullock), the world’s first-ever female super-villain. They travel from frigid Antarctica to 1960s New York City, ending in mod London, where they must face their biggest challenge to date: saving all of Minionkind…from annihilation. Featuring a soundtrack of hit music from the ’60s that still permeates our culture today, Minions is produced by Illumination’s Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy, and is directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda. Brian Lynch has written the screenplay for the 3D-CG comedy adventure, and Chris Renaud serves as executive producer of the film. - Universal Pictures