Film review: Minions

James Luxford
Minions: small in size, but big on laughs and tie-in merchandise
Cert U | ★★★☆☆

A large part of the Despicable Me franchise’s $1.5bn success, loveable sidekicks the Minions were bound to get their own spin off.

This prequel follows the yellow babbling hoards as three of their number look to find an evil leader to serve, inadvertently causing chaos along the way in 1960s London. Some characters are brilliant in short bursts but less so at feature length. In the case of the Minions, it becomes clear from the early scenes that everything in the story is simply preamble for a moment of slapstick, or a big action set piece.

Luckily, the script embraces the chaos, throwing in gags at breakneck speed, hoping no one will notice the pervading lack of purpose. For the most part it works – it’s been well established that most of the characters are comic relief, so it should come as no surprise that some of the tenderness of the original films has been replaced by madcap antics designed to do nothing more than amuse.

There is the occasional spark of dark humour (including a torture montage in the dungeons of Buckingham Palace) and a decidedly cheery family of would-be villains, voiced by Michael Keaton and Alison Janney.

The human additions to the cast also know their role, and Sandra Bullock throws herself wholeheartedly into the part of the main antagonist, a super-villain with trust issues. Jennifer Saunders, meanwhile, offers a colourful interpretation of a young Queen Elizabeth.

Minions is aimed at a younger crowd, who will bound out of the cinema overstimulated and hungry for tie-in merchandise. For the accompanying adults, the highlight is a toe-tapping 60’s soundtrack.