The first Despicable Me came out in 2010, telling a sweet story of super-villain Gru, as he battles to rise in the ranks of super-villains by stealing the moon – along with the help of his minions. As part of his plan, he adopts three orphan girls; which ends up softening his heart, and making him want to be good.
In 2013, we got Despicable Me 2, where Gru, now good, attempts to join a league of super-heroes by tracking down a former co-super-villain. He still has the girls, and falls for another hero in the course of his stakeout/research. Like the first movie, it was scored by Pharell, and gave us the infectious Happy as the biggest hit of the year.
In both movies, Gru’s minions, small, yellow, pill-shaped creatures voiced in complete gibberish by the director, steal the show. They are complete nonsense, and very funny. They are usually doing something entertaining in the background, which is made even more hilarious by the fact that they seem to have perfectly normal names.
This year, we get the Minion backstory. It turns out that minions were not created by Gru in his lab to serve him, as we were sort-of led to believe in the first movie. They apparently have existed from the beginning of time, and exist to serve whatever is the biggest bad around at the time. Their entire existence is them looking for a boss. We see them trail around through history, behind a T-Rex, then a caveman, then a vampire, then Napolean, until they are finally hiding in a cave, growing listless.
Eventually, Kevin, one of the minions, hatches a plan to go out and find a new boss. He ends up being joined by Stuart and Bob. Stuart gets volunteered because he was asleep and everyone else stepped back. Bob is very small, but is very eager to go and help.
They set out by boat and end up in late 60s-early 70s New York. There, they see a TV commercial for “Villain Con”, the super-villain convention which will be taking place in Miami. They set out hitchhiking to Miami, and are picked up by a family heading the same direction; a family that turns out to be villains heading to the con as well. Upon arriving at the con, the minions accidentally win a contest to be the new assistants to Scarlett Overkill – the current world’s greatest villain. She takes them back to her castle/headquarters in England, introduces them to her husband/inventor Herb, and gives them the task of stealing the Queen of England’s crown during which Bob accidentally becomes King. Hijinks ensue.
The movie features some notable celebrity voices including Sandra Bullock and John Hamm as Scarlett and Herb Overkill. They both seemed to be having a great time, and were very funny. Hamm actually was the scene stealer as Herb.
Micheal Keaton and Allison Janney played the parents in the car that picked up Kevin, Stuart, and Bob on the way to Orlando.
Steve Coogan plays the tower guard, who despite being blind, manages to put up a pretty good fight to try to prevent the crown from being stolen and Jennifer Saunders plays a young Queen Elizabeth – who accidentally gets dethroned, not because the minions successfully steal the crown, but because Bob accidentally pulls the “sword from the stone”, which England is still using? She then hangs out in pubs arm wrestling local hooligans.
Geoffrey Rush narrates the movie, which is necessary when you cannot understand your lead characters and Steve Carrell does show up at the end as young Gru, showing how the minions finally end up in Gru’s employ.
The minions, as always, are all voiced by co-director Pierre Coffin in a mixture of French, English, Spanish, and Italian gibberish. They’re adorable. Kevin is the leader, Stuart is a bit lazy and plays guitar, and Bob is tiny and over-eager – but that’s about all the character development you get.
Overall, the movie wasn’t bad, but for some reason, I did not enjoy it nearly as much as I did the Despicable movies – which is strange, because the minions are always the best part of those movies. Perhaps there was just too much of them in this movie? The heart in the Despicable movies comes from the interaction between the girls and Gru, with the minions providing comic relief. Here, they had to try to conveying emotions between the three lead minions, which was tough – especially since you cannot understand them. One thing I found strange was the amount of 60s-70s classic rock songs sprinkled throughout the movie. Perhaps it’s because I’m so used to seeing the minions layered over Pharrell music, but why would you spend the amount of money required on the licensing for those songs when your target audience won’t recognize them, and they’re even too old for the parents of your target audience? I mean, it leads believability for the time setting of the movie, but it really seemed strange to me. That’s a minor complaint. The movie was fine, but not as good as I wanted it to be, but hey - they're still adorable.
6 out of 10 – your kids will love it, and there’s certainly enough silliness in the 91 minutes to make you giggle. Gained points for Scarlett being pretty cool, but then lost points when she loses it at the end. Gained points for the random 3D nonsense over the end credits.
Bonus Video 1 – because you can’t get enough Happy.
Bonus Video 2 – Weird Al and a single take.
Bonus Video 3: Cast interviews