There’s a reason why even to this day we all marvel at the films of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Why Laurel & Hardy films are being remastered and re-released, or why the likes of Mr. Bean and Norman Wisdom’s work are still revered in countries around the world, regardless of their native language. It’s because there’s something so universal and so inherently fun about this playful sense of irreverence, which appeals to the child in all of us – and it’s this notion which makes Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin’s spin-off Minions a riotous success.
Working as a prequel to the Despicable Me franchise, we begin our story at the dawn of time, watching on as our favourite tiny yellow creatures attach themselves to all things evil, dedicating their entire lives to serve whoever they feel is the most dastardly villain in the world. However there came a time when they were abandoned out in the wilderness, with nobody to assist – and so the inspired Minion Kevin recruited both Bob and Stuart, to set off and find them a new nefarious tyrant to serve – which is where they wind up in London, set on a task to steal the Queen’s crown jewels to impress Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock) in a bid to profess their loyalty to the cause, and find their species a new home and master.
Much humour derives from the fact these seemingly good-natured, kind little beings are so drawn to savagery and the most barbaric person walking the Earth. It’s one of countless jokes which hit the target in Minions, which can be enjoyed by anybody – regardless of how old you may be. What’s especially impressive, is how the directors – along with screenwriter Brian Lynch – have managed to create such distinctive idiosyncrasies for the three protagonists. That had always been a worry, and a potential issue where this spin-off was concerned, as in Despicable Me they don’t have any discernible individual personalities, all effectively merging into one. But in order to engage with this feature, we need to have characters we can invest in – and that’s a given, all the while being achieved with a minimum contrivance. It’s easy to differentiate between our three heroes, both visually and in their contrasting demeanours.
That’s one of many worries put at ease, as despite always being the very finest aspect of Despicable Me, they came in small doses, and it was anybody’s guess as to whether it would work as a standalone movie, because perhaps it was that lack of screen time, and the way they always left you wanting more of the Minions which gave them such great appeal. Minions defies that notion completely however, as it now seems that the more Minions the merrier.