They were born to be bad, to work under some of the greatest villains in history, but what are they to do when their old bosses, baddies like T-Rex, Dracula and Napoleon don’t require their services? If you are minions named Bob, Kevin and Stuart (co-director Pierre Coffin who supplied the voices for all 899 minions) you hitchhike to Orlando, Florida and attend the 1968 Villain-Con International looking for work.
The star of Villain-Con is the world’s first female supervillain Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock). “When I started out people said a woman could never rob a bank as well as a man,” she says. “Well times have changed!” Her current evil plan involves stealing Queen Elizabeth’s (Jennifer Saunders) crown and taking over the throne. Hiring the Minions, she arms them with groovy 1960s weapons like a Lava Lamp Gun and a Hypno Hat, they set off on the mission, but when the Minions are involved, even the best laid plans can turn to gibberish.
During the screening the old saying, “Less is more,” sprung to mind. Would “Stand by Me” work if it was only about Ray Brower (the dead body)? How about “Mola Ram and the Temple of Doom”? What can be interesting or fun in small doses doesn’t always work in center stage. Like an orchestra made up of nothing but triangle players, sometimes it’s best to leave an asset in the background.
There is no denying the Minions’ cute appeal and their zest for the surreal side of life is contagious but as characters they’re limited by speaking Minionese, a nonsense language (equal parts Italian, Spanish, French and baby talk) that pretty much rules out sophisticated verbal jokes or long scenes of dialogue. Instead they make noises and frequently sing to stretch the running time to feature length. Don’t even ask about character development. They’re yellow, out of control and loud and that’s all they’ll ever be. “Inside Out” this ain’t.
Not that any of this will matter to kids very much. They love the Minions and they love their Minion stuffed animals. They love the gibberish and the physical humour. So what if there’s not much for anyone over the age of ten? Haters gonna hate. Minions gonna Minionate.