Minions by Universal Studios is a madcap, prop-fall film that focuses on the many (many) misadventures of the pill-shaped yellow henchmen originally introduced in Despicable Me, for which the movie serves as a prequel. The film does have a lot of room to giggle, although the giggles might start to get a little more difficult to sustain with the movie’s 104 minute run-time, and the eponymous Minions are downright lovable in their own gibberish-y way.
Glossing briefly over the evolution of the Minions from single-celled organisms to their current state, the back-story of the Minions is given in a voice-over that explains how these silly little creatures constantly seek to serve the biggest and the baddest boss on the block and how their devotion usually brings that boss to an untimely end.
After a montage when the Minions establish their own society in an ice cave, we meet the hero of the story, a Minion named Kevin with the bright idea to head out into the world and find a new boss to serve. He enlists the help of Stuart, a girl-loving and guitar-playing sidekick, and Bob, who carries around a teddy bear and joyously bounces on every bed he finds. The trio head out into the wide world of 1968, and their bumbling adventure begins. They spend a small (and probably the most hilarious) section of the film in New York City before finding out about Villain Con being held in Orlando.
After hitchhiking to Orlando (Yes, hitchhiking; remember that it’s the 60s!), they eventually manage to attach themselves to the world’s first female super-villain, Scarlet Overkill. She jets them away to her palace, introduces them to her husband, and sends them off to steal Queen Elizabeth’s crown. What follows is a bizarre and occasionally hysterical series of events that involves the sword in the stone, an abdication, a bizarre torture scene, and several chaotic action sequences before the film’s denouement.
All of the violence in the film is the cartoony, over-the-top kind that would have made Bugs Bunny feel right at home. There are lots of explosions from which people emerge safely, boulders and chandeliers dropped on people who get little more than a hair out of place in response, and lots of silly weaponry like the Lava Lamp Gun, which shoots real lava (that melts plenty of objects in the film, but never any people). There is never any blood, and the only deaths depicted are of villains like Dracula.
There is one sequence in which the Minions are meant to be tortured with medieval-like devices only to learn that, because of their unique physiology, they find the rack or the hangman’s noose hysterical. The extended “action” sequence at the end has a lot of explosions, and there may be a few tense moments that younger children might find unnerving.
The Minions are largely asexual, or at least all male, so there’s definitely nothing untoward there. Stuart seems to like the ladies, and he spends some time snuggling with yellow fire hydrants, but it plays as cute and charming. There are a few shots of Minions in their underwear or bathing suits, their little rear-ends shown for comedic effect, and there’s a sequence where guards in the Tower of London strip and slap each other on the behinds which might be a little unnecessary, but – even considering the PDA-heavy relationship between Scarlet Overkill and her husband Herb – the movie is fairly clean with regards to sex and has no nudity.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Although the film is set in 1968, there’s no mention or allusion to drugs at all. The movie’s soundtrack includes The Doors and Jimi Hendrix, but the songs are sampled in the film to avoid any suggestion of drug use.
Alcohol isn’t expressly mentioned or highlighted, but there are several scenes where it seems to be imbibed. At least one Minion can be seen sipping what looks like a martini, and Queen Elizabeth is shown getting absolutely plastered in a pub, guzzling a beer. She also speaks drunkenly to Kevin for a time, but it’s never actually mentioned that she’s inebriated or what she’s drinking.
Minions is admittedly one-note joke that lasts almost two hours, but it’s not trying to be anything other than a silly film with silly gags. Although there are still giggles to be had at the way the Minions speak and act by the end of the film, especially when Bob gives his fantastic “speech” to the people of England, it might be hard to sustain the interest of younger children for the duration.
The message is also a little wishy-washy. The Minions serve bad guys exclusively, which isn’t the best ideology for kids, especially since they never learn from their mistakes: they keep signing up to serve these bad guys, and something always goes wrong. But the movie does highlight the importance of perseverance and friendship, with Kevin, Stuart, and Bob sticking together through thick and thin to achieve their goal of finding someone to serve.
All Rights Reserved
Southern Outdoor Cinema
About Paul B. Murray
Paul is founder of Southern Outdoor Cinema, an Atlanta outdoor movie equipment rental company for movie nights and a dad of 2 pre-teen girls. When he is not traveling the South creating outdoor movie nights for communities and schools, he is spending time playing board games, reading books and watching movies with his family.