Granger on Movies: ‘Minions’
It was inevitable that the yellow, goggle-eyed squeakers that stole most of the attention in “Despicable Me” would get their own spin-off. This animated prequel reveals a time before Minions became loyal servants of the evil villain Gru.
Narrated by Geoffrey Rush, the prologue reveals that these tiny, single-celled organisms have been around since time began, searching for villainous masters to serve. Over the ages, a T-Rex, an Egyptian pharaoh, Dracula and Napoleon fell because of the ineptitude of these nefarious henchmen.
Exiled to a cave in Antarctica, they fall into a deep depression — until Kevin decides to embark on a quest to look for a new scoundrel to serve, accompanied by enthusiastic Bob and one-eyed, ukulele-toting Stuart.
Washing ashore in Manhattan in 1968, they discard their woolies for denim dungarees before hitchhiking to Orlando, Fla., with bank robbers (voiced by Michael Keaton and Allison Janney), heading for Villain-Con and the “world’s first female supervillain,” Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock).
Then they’re off to tea-slurping, scone-gobbling London to join Scarlet and her daffy inventor husband, Herb (voiced by Jon Hamm), sneaking into the Tower of London to steal the Crown jewels belonging to the Queen (voice by Jennifer Saunders).
Minions’ creator, director Pierre Coffin works with Kyle Balda, whose credits include “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” and “Banana” (2010), a four-minute Minion short, and screenwriter Brian Lynch (“Puss in Boots”) — and it’s Coffin who vocalizes the babbling Minions’ bizarre gibberish.
Given their linguistic limitations, the Minions remain supporting characters, and that becomes a problem when there’s no clear, relationship-based narrative to connect their anarchic, absurdist escapades in a fast-paced, full-length feature.
Instead of Pharrell Willliams’ funky hip-hop tunes, the soundtrack is filled with 1960s nostalgia, including the Rolling Stones, the Doors, the Kinks, The Turtles and Donovan’s euphonious “Mellow Yellow.”
And there are no compelling action sequences that make the extra 3-D charge worthwhile.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Minions” is a silly, slapstick 6, amusing enough until “Despicable Me 3,” scheduled for the summer of 2017.
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