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Monday, July 13, 2015

Minions 2015 * * 1/2 Stars

MinionsDirectors: Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda
Year: 2015
Rated PG
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton

I'm not a father but I have a niece and three nephews. Over the years, I've learned that if you plop them in front of a television set and turn on anything cartoon-related, they become spellbound. They stop all the jibber jabber, they tune the adults (and each other) out, and basically stare straight forward. In context, everyone under the age of 6 gets into the zone. Minions, which currently seems to be hauling in monster box office receipts, is the type of animated film that will provide youngins with this sort of childlike fix. It's beautiful to look at with 3D effects that start off robust and strong. And let's face it, what adolescent doesn't like main characters who are goofy and look like Tic Tacs containing a flavor that can't be identified yet.

But wait. What about the adults that have to accompany said kids due to the flick's MPAA rating and their overall concept of necessitated supervision? Well, they might find things unfocused and undisciplined. I'm mean sure you have a fresh and original sense of time and place (the late 1960's to be exact), a rugged, arena rock soundtrack (with tunes by The Who, The Rolling Stones, and The Spencer Davis Group), and of course, some suggestive PG-rated, adult humor. But no amount of this upbringing could ever keep you, the adult, from having your patience tested (I know mine was). At the half hour mark, I found Minions as creatures, to be quite annoying. They spoke in a language that I couldn't understand (I heard it was a hint of Spanish, whatever) and in all honesty, they needed some serious anxiety medication. As the end credits rolled I thought to myself, why couldn't the descendants of Despicable Me fame make this decade of discontent a little more groovier man. Oh well.

Slated as a prequel to the Despicable Me film series (mentioned one sentence ago) and featuring the voice-over work of Micheal Keaton (he must have done a heck of an accent because I couldn't identify who his character was), Minions begins a long time ago (we're talking the dinosaur period). These things obviously don't age and carry that Forest Gumpian gene. They've seen it all, done it all, and even manage to kill Napoleon. Now they need a new leader. Their solution: Go to New York City circa 1968 and befriend a supervillain named Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock). That's the gist here and I dare you to follow verbatim, the actual plot points presented. I myself, drifted into a monotonous frenzy while throwing my hands way up in the air (there seemed to be a lot of globetrotting going on with these energetic, cuddly varmints. The only thing I ended up focusing on was if they had one eye or two).

In conclusion, Minions has a visual richness and a canvas containing hundreds of pixels (in many a frame). However, it's unnecessarily feverish, incoherent, and messy. As you watch it, you forget that you're following a story and instead, you see various scenes at random. Frankly, it's hard to get a handle on the plot threads if it weren't for a narrative device in the first ten minutes and one in the last fifteen. I categorize this close-up fest as an animated version of Frank Zappa's 200 Motels (1971) and denounce it as possibly the first true stoner flick since The Beatles cartoon vehicle, Yellow Submarine. Does that mean that these proceedings are recommendable? Hardly. In truth, I've never seen the movies that spawned this 2015 release (Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2). And according to my fellow critic (and near-adult colleague, Cole Pollyea), you're better off checking out those endeavors instead. However, if you choose to take the kiddies to Minions, be warned. They'll eat it up (it's safe to say that little ones won't care one iota about the plot) while you'll be anxiously waiting for the closing curtain. The result: A mixed review from me at 2 and a half stars.

Of note: The one word spoken by the Minions that translated into anything English, was "banana". It turned into a zinger that generated a small chuckle from my end. Everything else was total gibberish (that includes the whole running time of ninety-one minutes).

Written by Jesse Burleson

1 comment:

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