Minions_posterUniversal Pictures

“Once upon a time, there were three little pigs. The pigs encountered a big, bad wolf, who hired the three pigs to come work for her. One day, the pigs did something very stupid, so the wolf huffed, and puffed and she BLEW THEM OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH! The end.”

Starting as single-celled yellow organisms, Minions evolve through the ages, perpetually serving the most despicable of masters. Continuously unsuccessful at keeping these masters – from T. Rex to Napoleon – the Minions find themselves without someone to serve and fall into a deep depression. But one Minion named Kevin has a plan, and he – alongside teen-age rebel Stuart and lovable little Bob – ventures out into the world to find a new evil boss for his brethren to follow. The trio embarks upon a thrilling journey that ultimately leads them to their next potential master, Scarlet Overkill, the world’s first supervillainess ever. They travel from frigid Antarctica to 1960s New York City, ending in modern London, where they must face their biggest challenge to date: saving all of Minionkind…from annihilation.

The Minions. Ever since they made their first appearance in the movie Despicable Me, they’ve been the darlings of what appears to be a franchise. Toys, nick-knacks, t-shirts, unavoidable memes where they slap on some pithy bumper-sticker saying next to a picture of one of these yellow freaks for whatever reason. And while I admit they work well as the support cast to Gru’s misadventures, I never really thought they could actually handle their own movie.

Well, somebody obviously disagreed, probably the studio execs who looked at these little characters and saw dollar signs dressed in denim coveralls. And thus, we have a prequel/spin-off movie starring these merchandise fodder. Is “fodder” the plural as well as the singular? I’m too lazy to look it up.

The story is pretty straight-forward: We follow the Minions as they evolve over time, from single-celled organisms to their present form, always with a single-minded goal of finding and serving the biggest, baddest baddie out there. Usually with hilariously disastrous results. This eventually results in a self-exile in Antarctica, where they enjoyed their solitude, until the usual melancholy that comes as a result of not fulfilling your potential sets in. So, three of the clan decide to venture forth unto the land of humans, in search of the ultimate villan to serve as their master. They land in New York City, where it’s the year 1968, and through a series of wacky coincidences, they wind up in Florida to attend Villain-Con, and manage to become the henchmen for female supervillain Scarlet Overkill. Their first official mission: steal St. Edward’s Crown from Queen Elizabeth II. Only, they accidentally do a good job in doing it, managing to de-throne the Queen and being placed as rulers of the United Kingdom, which makes Scarlet all sorts of jeally, throw a hissy-fit, and vow to destroy all of the minions. Wackiness ensues.

While the two Despicable Me films are good family films, Minions seems to be more of a kids’ film. The difference being that the entire family, both kids and adults, would find Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 entertaining, Minions is aimed at entertaining the kids. Sure, there’s a few references that got a chuckle, but for the most part that thing that made the Despicable Me films work on that level wasn’t here. As a villain, Scarlet Overkill didn’t do much to inspire like Gru did. She was kind of boring, really. A one-note character. Her husband was more interesting, and he was more of a lackey than the Minions were.

Overall, Minions was a decent way to kill time on the Saturday morning I watched this. Discount ticket prices, and all. The writing was good, there were some rather amusing bits in there, and I didn’t feel like my intelligence was being insulted. But I still get the feeling that Minions was a direct-to-video release that somehow made it to the theaters. Good for a matinĂ©e showing, I would think, if you have kids. Otherwise, wait for the rental if you don’t. You’ll seem less creepy that way.