2015, PG, 91 min. Directed by Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin. Voices by Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Jennifer Saunders, Geoffrey Rush, Steve Carell.

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., July 10, 2015

Toddler-tiny, banana-colored, and clad in denim bib overalls and vaguely steampunk goggles, Minions don’t look like leading men. They don’t sound like ’em, either, as they gibber away in a polyglot pidgin of English, Spanish, and French and search high and low for a dastardly master to serve. Just five years ago, Minions were mere background noise in the kiddie cartoon Despicable Me. Now here they are starring in their own vehicle. That’s a rags-to-riches story to rival Lana Turner at the Woolworth’s lunch counter.

Just kidding. Minions exists because a media megacorp required a fresh way to tap cash from the Despicable Me concept. But to the credit of the filmmakers, Minions doesn’t play cynically. It’s a slight, bright, bopping entertainment.

Like a child – its target demo, after all – nothing holds the film’s attention for very long, which means it squanders clever setups, including a lock-in at a New York department store (what fun it could have had with a Mixed-Up Files of Marshall Field’s!) and a kooky VillainCon gathering that’s over in the blink of an eye. But the fleetness of the script by Brian Lynch – who also wrote next year’s The Secret Life of Pets, the trailer for which killed at Tuesday’s sneak screening – mostly works in the film’s favor. No gag gets overlavished, no plotline overstays its welcome. The film is also set, somewhat arbitrarily, in 1968, which inspires some nifty retro looks (egg chairs, mod suits) and overplayed hits from the Kinks, the Doors, and the Who.

The foregrounded animation of the heroes and villains is well-executed, although the mouth movements of supreme baddie Scarlett Overkill don’t always seem to match with Sandra Bullock’s vocal work, and the background detail, like a photorealistic brick wall, is exquisite. Best yet, there’s a mid-film bedtime story, made to look like stop-motion, that’ll take your breath away.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Kyle Balda Films
Minions: The Rise of Gru
Kevin, Stuart, yee Bob nama bok, yee ba veela doegab tadtee de Otto!

Jenny Nulf, July 1, 2022

Despicable Me 3
Animated franchise confirms the law of diminishing returns

Marc Savlov, June 30, 2017

More by Kimberley Jones
Don't Worry Darling
Even Florence Pugh can't save this heavy-handed thriller

Sept. 23, 2022

We Have an Issue: Toasts All Around
We Have an Issue: Toasts All Around
Celebrating the Best of Austin: Restaurants awards, and sending off Music Editor Kevin Curtin

Sept. 23, 2022


Minions, Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle