Minions—based on the sidekicks from 2010’s Despicable Me—is what happens when a studio is running out of steam. Despicable Me was a well-timed impersonation of goodness, though not all that mind-blowing in its own right—sentimental, star-studded, and as rote as they come.
The series has naturally spawned a sequel, a spin-off, and a further tri-quel in development for 2017, as well as six short films, a theme park ride, and three video games. So it’s probably safe to say that Minions has the artistic integrity of a WWE RAW match.
Like you, I don’t demand that every children’s movie be the newest, best thing to ever happen to film (though neither do I assume a children’s movie has to be formulaic and banal). Minions, though, is an almost aggressively hollow project. At least the Shrek films peppered their scripts with questionable jokes, so that adults could be either interested or offended.
Minions traces the history of its eponymous heroes, a race of creatures who evolved specifically to serve the baddest villain around—like T-Rex, Napoleon, or the Sandra Bullock-voiced 60’s-era villain Scarlet Overkill. The Minion trifecta that serves as the movie’s center (voiced collectively by co-director Pierre Coffin), after eons of jockeying, are ready to help Overkill in her plan to steal the royal jewels of England. Overkill (having apparently missed the first two movies) has no idea that having Minions help you execute dastardly schemes is like having bulls help you construct your china shop.
You might think, “Well, watching Minions as a family is better than nothing.” The truth is, it’s definitely not better than just reading to your kid, ...1