It’s a dicey proposition to pull characters out of a popular movie franchise and throw them out on their own.
There are just too many things that can go wrong. You risk losing valuable chemistry, or you can take breakout characters and change the mood from endearing to maddening to annoying.
But still the risk has been taken with “Minions,” and the results, while hardly spectacular, are good enough.
Yes, that’s hardly a ringing endorsement of a franchise that has had two pretty spectacular entries in the “Despicable Me” series. Call me crazy, but I missed myself some Gru and his trio of adopted daughters.
Calling “Minions” a prequel is perfectly fitting because that’s what it is, much more than it is a spinoff. The film starts literally at the beginning, with Minions befriending organisms of the sea and evolving into the sidekicks of the dinosaurs, then cavemen, and so on.
Cut to present day … er, the 1960s, and Minions are looking for a new master. They are finding life without a master to be dreadfully dull, so Bob, Kevin and Stuart set out on the real world to find a worthy one.
They hope they’ve found it in Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock), the first female villain, who has an amiable cornball of a husband (Jon Hamm) and a plot to become Queen of England.
After Bob inadvertently spoils her plot, Scarlett plots to destroy the Minions and take her crown.
The biggest trick this franchise has pulled off has been increasing the screen time of the Minions without making them into bland caricatures of themselves. The act could easily get stale, but to Universal’s credit they have kept them silly and fun, and they haven’t succumbed to the temptation to do something irritating or letting the act run thin.
Still, without the dark humor of the first two films, there is a little … something missing. Kevin, Stuart and Bob are entertaining enough, but some of the humor falls a touch flat. Still, though, there is more than enough good-natured comedy to keep “Minions” on the side of mostly winner, though it doesn’t always have the same panache as its predecessors.
So the verdict: Should you invest in “Minions”? Without a doubt, if you have children or are just fans of the characters. The movie itself is a fun enough time, and even if you’re missing how Despicable this series has been, your children will absolutely love it.