Minions

 

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The irritating amoebas from Despicable Me set off for Orlando and Swinging London.

 
Minions

  

If your definition of ‘animated’ is ‘lively,’ then Minions should scratch your itch. If, however, ‘animated’ prompts you to think of the films of Pixar, Disney or any of the magical titles produced by Studio Ghibli, then Universal Pictures’ Minions drags the genre back into the Dark Ages. Talking of the Dark Ages, this period of history is actually featured in this franchise-friendly prequel to Despicable Me in which the Minions accidentally kill their Medieval leader. But then the film also plunders the upper Cretaceous period, ancient Egypt and the Napoleonic wars in its grab-bag quest to pitch the Minions anywhere exotic and colourful. As explained in Geoffrey Rush’s breathless voice-over, the irritating little yellow amoebas from Despicable Me and its sequel Despicable Me 2 have been around for millennia. Although spectacularly stupid and devoid of any apparent reproductive ability, the Minions have survived to the present day and in their first (and let’s hope only) solo starring vehicle they show up in New York City in 1968, set, bizarrely, to the sound of The Rolling Stones.

 

Of course, there’s no discernible logic in the film and the incredibly prestigious soundtrack (The Beatles, The Who, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Donovan, Sir Van Morrison) does much of the work in fortifying the shambles. Desperate to serve a new master criminal, the Minions hitchhike to Orlando in Florida to participate in the International Villain Con where, due to another freak accident, they are selected to serve the unscrupulous Scarlett Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock). Cut to Swinging London and we find that Scarlett is bent on becoming the new monarch of England, although any constitutional dictates are conveniently overlooked. Elizabeth II herself is voiced by Jennifer Saunders and suffers more indignities than she did in the recent British farce A Royal Night Out.

 

While channelling the anarchic slapstick of The Looney Tunes, the film forgets that those early shorts, while fantastical, possessed their own internal logic. Here, the film throws anything it likes at the creative fan, in the hope that something amusing sticks. So when our heroes Kevin, Stuart and Bob are chased through the streets of London, they are incongruously pursued by a London bobby, a clown, a cowboy with a lasso, Conan the Barbarian and the Creature from the Black Lagoon – while every other Englishman appears to be pouring himself a cup of tea. Such clichés persist throughout, initially being wearisome, then tedious, then downright torturous. It’s like being subjected to a scrambled YouTube marathon of Hanna-Barbera where eventually nothing makes sense other than one’s desire to expire.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Voices of  Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Jennifer Saunders, Pierre Coffin, and Geoffrey Rush (narrator).

 

Dir Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, Pro Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy, Screenplay Brian Lynch, Pro Des Eric Guillon, Ed Claire Dodgson, Music Heitor Pereira.

 

Illumination Entertainment-Universal Pictures.

90 mins. USA. 2015. Rel: 26 June 2015. Cert. U.