Over the course of two Despicable Me movies the yellow, nonsense-spouting Minions were an entertaining addition to the story. Constantly getting into trouble and uttering nonsensical noises (with the occasional giggle and “bottom” thrown in for good measure), they are arguably the best, if not the best, characters in the Despicable Me franchise.
But can they sustain a whole movie by themselves? Well, yes and no.
In this, their first solo feature, we go back to the beginning of time as the Minions seek an evil genius for them to follow. This is covered in an effective and highly amusing intro sequence as time moves forward, coming to a halt in the 1960s. After many failed attempts through the decades at finding some dastardly villain to pledge allegiance to, Kevin Stuart and Bob head out into the wider world and pay a visit to Villaincon, a convention especially for the most villainous people in the world. A hive of scum and villainy, if you will. There they latch onto the devious Scarlett Overkill, voiced by Sandra Bullock, who they deem to be the most villainous person in attendance. Her plan? To steal the Crown Jewels in England.
This provides an excuse, no matter how flimsy, to transport the action to London in the Swinging Sixties, and a number of broad stroke and era-specific pop culture references whilst Overkill and her groovy other half Herb Overkill (voiced by Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm) plot devious things. There’s a fat load of farce and silly moments making up the rest of the story, culminating in a giant assault in London. As far as stories go it’s not exactly one that Gru would have approved of. But then, that might be precisely why the Minions and Scarlet Overkill inevitably part ways. She’s just not evil enough.
Making up for the slightly lacklustre plot is that there are numerous jokes that work and work well, so if your world is not set alight by the plot then you should at least find yourself laughing or, at the very least, chuckling, for most of the run time. The Minions have a particular interest in bananas in this instance, instantly matching “bottom” for the best thing to say in a Minion voice. Go on, give it a go. Or, indeed, both of them.
Joining Bullock and Hamm behind the microphone are not just Pierre Coffin who again voices all of the Minions, but the likes of Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Jennifer Saunders, Steve Coogan and even Geoffrey Rush as the genial narrator. A veritable smorgasbord of talent and, thankfully, not wasted.
It’s a big colourful world in which the Minions exist, and there is even multiple excuses to burst into nonsensical song throughout. You should know the tunes, but the lyrics are nicely obscured by their own particular cadence. Quite frankly you can ignore the story and just giggle your way through as the Minions move from one increasingly silly escapade to the next. It doesn’t need to do much else besides entertain, and in that respect it succeeds.