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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 25%
Just Average: 16.67%
Pretty Crappy58.33%
Sucks: 0%

1 review, 6 user ratings

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by Peter Sobczynski

"A.K.A. Screaming Yellow Zonkers: The Movie"
2 stars

In "National Lampoon's Animal House," there is that famous extended sequence in the middle in which a bunch of the Deltas commandeer the car that one of them has borrowed for a weekend and use it to go on a joyride that finds them picking up dates at a sorority under questionable circumstances and culminates with them stumbling upon a bar featuring an appearance by Otis Day and the Knights. From beginning to end, this set-piece is absolutely hilarious but one of the most unusual aspects about it is that the best-known character from the film, John Belushi's Bluto, is nowhere to be seen during any of it. The story goes that before this part was filmed, Belushi begged director John Landis to be included in this sequence as well but Landis wisely refused to add him on the basis that as funny as Bluto was, it was a character best doled out in small doses and that he might become less appealing and more irritating with prolonged exposure. This proved to be a smart move because by not overexposing the character there, Bluto was able to have more of an impact later on when his energy was really needed. If only the makers of "Minions" had heeded this lesson as well. Sure, the coffers at Universal might have been lowered by about a billion dollars or so but it might have avoided the existence of a film that little kids will undoubtedly like and which anyone old enough to have kids will probably regard as little more than a 90-minute migraine.

The Minions, of course, are those weird yellow creatures in the hugely successful "Despicable Me" franchise that speak their own gobbledygook language and which bumblingly assist bad guy extraordinary in his various evil plots and schemes. Both that film and its equally successful sequel, "Despicable Me 2," were sort of amusing on their own but they truly came to life whenever the Minions popped into frame to jazz things up with their unique brand of utter silliness. However, while watching their antics, I do not recall a single moment when I found myself thinking "Gee, these guys are funny but man, I really wish I knew what their backstory was and what misadventures they might have gotten themselves into before meeting Gru!" After all, when I was a little kid seeing "Star Wars" for the first time as a little kid, I never once looked at the Jawas and though that giving them a standalone film explaining their origins. Frankly, I just assumed that Gru somehow developed them in his laboratory or something like along those lines--it may not be the most elaborate of explanations but it gets the job done and I don't think that anyone would have been less entertained by the films if this had been the case. And yet, here we are with "Minions" and I swear, if it winds up making more money that the genuinely delightfully and insightful "Inside Out" in this summer's movie derby, I am going to be pissed.

It turns out that Minions have been around since the beginning of time--don't ask about how they go about reproduction--and have been searching since then for the perfect bad guy that they can serve without hesitation. Alas, while they mean well, they have attempted to serve everyone from a T-Rex to a N-Bon, their efforts inevitably blow up int their face and as the story proper opens, they are all in exile in a cave in Antarctica slowly going stir crazy over not being able to help in the creation of evil. (Why such sunn creatures would immediately gravitate to the dark side is a backstory question that is not resolved along the way, for those of you scoring at him.) With group apathy on the rise, brave Minion Kevin (voiced, as are all of the Minions, by co-director Pierre Coffin) hatches a plan to venture out into the world to find a new evil mastermind for them to follow. He and fellow Minions Stuart (the mildly rebellious one) and Bob (the extra-adorable one) set off on their quest and eventually land in New York City circa 1968 (cue the ever-present oldies-heavy soundtrack), where they learn of an international convention of evildoers that is being held in that fetid cesspool of nothingness known as Orlando, Florida, ha-ha. The trio make their way down there and inadvertently wind up impressing the world's first female super-villain, Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), who winds up hiring them as her henchmen.

Jetting back to her home base in London, Scarlet introduces the three to her husband/weapons designer, Herb (Jon Hamm), and lets them in on her plans for them. They are charged with the simple task of stealing Queen Elizabeth's crown and bringing it to Scarlet so that she may live out her long-held dream of ruling England as a way of getting back at all the people who were mean to her as a little girl. (I think the rules of succession in the monarchy are slightly more complicated than that but her, there will always be an England. . .) Their big attempt ends in disaster, of course, and Scarlet in even more enraged when their efforts result in Bob, of all blobs, being named King of England. Even when Bob cheerfully abdicates the crown to her, she is still angry enough to lock them away in a dungeon presumably forever, as she prepares to assume her queenly duties at last. I wouldn't dream of what happens next but it involves big chases, battles in the skies over London and other things so spectacular that it is a wonder that such events were never once mentioned or even referred to at any point during the other "Despicable Me" films.

If your idea of entertainment is to spend 90 minutes watching a bunch of anthropomorphic Twinkies jabbering like Chipmunks whacked out on crystal meth while inexplicably espousing a slave mentality, then "Minions" should prove to be the movie to beat for the summer. If such a concept does not immediately float your collective boat, then you are likely to have at least a few issues with the film, starting with the title creatures themselves. As supporting characters who come in, get the big laugh and then get out so that the film can get back to the main story, they are pretty much gold but as the center of their own full-length feature narrative, they leave a lot to be desired. As instant jokes, they are amusing enough for a bit but after a while, even their most dedicated fans are likely to grow a little weary of them, especially since little else has been done to make them into interesting individual characters. The end result is a spin-off that has forgotten to provide any sort of spin to the material and as a result, it begins to sag terribly long before it arrives at its merciful conclusion.

Instead, "Minions" tries to grab viewers with the same tired methods employed by animated filmmakers of late who seem to have access to more money than genuine inspiration. There are a number of big celebrities contributing voices here but most of them--certainly Bullock and Hamm--seem to have be cast more for their name value than for their actual contributions. The only vocal performance that makes any real impact is the one turned in by Michael Keaton as the head of a bank-robbing nuclear family that the Minions encounter in the early going. This is the one sequence in the film that flirts with doing something different--the thing that gave the original "Despicable Me" its appeal--and it is by far the best bit in the entire film. There is a wall-to-wall soundtrack of tunes from the biggest bands of the era, such as the Beatles (stay tuned after the credits for a Minion rendition of "Revolution" that will have you rushing to apologize to Nike), the Who, the Doors, the Stones and the Turtles to name a few. Again, they seem to have been selected for their familiarity than anything else and considering how the creatures are obsessed with bananas, it seems insane for the film to set a scene in a record store and not have them encounter a copy of "The Velvet Underground & Nico." And yes, the whole ordeal is in 3-D but the gimmick is deployed in such uninteresting ways that it will hardly register with most viewers even while they are wearing those dippy glasses.

I realize that for most people reading this, whether or not I liked "Minions" is completely irrelevant--they want to know if the little kids that are the target audience will like it. Yes, they will--it is bright (not quite so if you make the ill-advised choice to go the 3-D route) and noisy and silly and many will no doubt be imitating Minion-speak for weeks to come. At the same time, I bet if you asked those same kids if they liked the idea of having a dinner consisting entirely of ice cream and Pixie-Stix, they would probably think that was a swell idea as well but no sensible parent would indulge them in that way by letting them OD on something with no nutritional value whatsoever. "Minions" is pretty much the Pixie-Stix of animated films (which is weird since they look like Tic-Tacs)--they give you a rush for a little bit but when that initial burst of energy runs out, the resulting crash is anything but pretty. Of course, despite having written these words, I realize that families are still going to turn out for it in droves. However, if it winds up doing better at the box office than the wonderful "Inside Out," an animated film that is charming and hilarious but which also offers viewers of all ages something of value to chew on amidst the nonsense, then I might have to enter the world of super-villainy myself in order to get revenge on everyone. If that happens, I wonder where a guy might be able to find a loyal servant or 10,000 to help out in my endeavors. . .

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=24287&reviewer=389
originally posted: 07/09/15 16:22:56
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User Comments

6/23/17 Charles Tatum Funny stuff, on par with the DM films 4 stars
10/04/15 G. These little guys worked much better as supporting characters. 2 stars
9/21/15 Kyndal Smith Loved it! Better yet my 3 kids were crazy about it. 4 stars
8/27/15 Laura I love these movies. They just make me happy, wonder what's next 4 stars
7/26/15 Elizabeth The "origin" segments were best; uninspired villain. 3 stars
7/13/15 KingNeutron Really looked fwd 2 this, left disappointed. Saunders stole the show tho 3 stars
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  10-Jul-2015 (PG)
  DVD: 08-Dec-2015

  26-Jun-2015 (U)

  18-Jun-2015 (PG)
  DVD: 08-Dec-2015

Directed by
  Kyle Balda
  Pierre Coffin

Written by
  Brian Lynch

  Sandra Bullock
  Steve Carell
  Jon Hamm
  Hiroyuki Sanada
  Chris Renaud
  Pierre Coffin

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