The Minions are probably some of the most beloved characters of contemporary children's cinema. For many people, they were the most enjoyable part of the Despicable Me films. In the original Despicable Me, the Minions began as a kind of background comic relief to the cynical Gru. By Despicable Me 2, the Minions had been given a bigger stage, as the plot of that film centered around a plan to transform the lovable Minions into ferocious killing machines. It is no surprise that the craving for more and MOAR Minions led their creators (Illumination Entertainment) to make a Minions spin-off film...and hence, Minions (2015, PG).
This movie is supposed to be a kind of origins prequel about the Minions. The film takes us on a trip through history to show how Minions have been helping history's villains for thousands of years. The story eventually settles in 1968 with the Minions sending representatives to a secret villain convention in Orlando (Villain-Con) in hopes of finding a new "big boss" to work for and bring purpose to their lives. At Villain-Con they are introduced to the mega-villain Scarlett Overkill and become her assistants in the crime heist of the century: stealing the crown of Queen Elizabeth.
What worked about this film? Well, a film can't just be about Minions, per se; it thus focuses in on the adventures of three particular Minions: Kevin, Stuart, and Bob, who are the delegates of the Minions to Villain-Con. They work well as protagonists (Bob is extremely cute). Of course, it is always amusing to just see Minions being themselves. What more can I say? They are Minions, and anything they do is funny.
That's not to say everything works here, though. To the degree that the movie does work, it does so in spite of its plot, which was weak at best. You know, I honestly don't care what the Minions were doing before they met Gru. I don't care about the origin of the Minions. The fun of the Minions is you just take their existence and their job for granted; it is totally gratuitous. In Despicable Me, we are simply presented with the reality of the Minions and asked to accept them as a part of that cinematic universe without question. That is how it should be. When we start diving into the biological and historical origin of the Minions, they lose something. Remember how mystical and powerful the Force was in the original Star Wars movies? Then in the prequels, we learned about midichlorians and were all like, "Oh..." Same deal here. It's the bane of all prequels.
The villain Scarlett Overkill was less than convincing. Voiced by by Sandra Bullock, Scarlett Overkill was a strange character. Her plot to steal the crown of Queen Elizabeth is bizarre and not really understandable. Sometimes she seems to just want the crown based on some childhood fantasy; at other times she seems to think possessing the crown will make her Queen and give her power. Honestly, after dealing with Vector stealing the moon and El Macho plotting to conquer the world with mutated minions, the theft of the crown of England seems a little tame - especially given the office of the Queen holds so little real authority! It's hard to believe a villain who is trying so hard to obtain the symbol of an office that is largely honorary. It' be like a super-villain planning to steal an Olympic gold medal; so what? It doesn't do anything or give you any special power.
I should also mention, there are a few sexual innuendos; only one or two, but they were there. They flew over the head of my kid, but it was disappointing to see them in there since they were lacking in the Despicable Me movies.
Yes, Gru has a cameo at the end; Dr. Nefario even shows up momentarily, if you are savvy enough to spot him.
Still, despite its faults, it was entertaining. It's Minions! Watching them slap each other fighting over a banana is funny. This is fortunate. If these were any other protagonists, the film would probably have failed miserably. But the Minions save it. Thus, the movie, to a degree, ends up succeeding in spite of itself.