By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Minions is about to make millions.

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And why shouldn’t it?  Kids can’t help but respond to it.

 

(3 stars out of 4)

(3 stars out of 4)

As for ex-kids, they’re on their own, but they’re (that is, we’re) hereby challenged not to grin or giggle throughout all the goofy shenanigans.

The animated comedy Minions is a spinoff of and prequel to Despicable Me (2010) and Despicable Me 2 (2013)

The title characters are little yellow, goggle-wearing, banana-craving something-or-others, creatures who exist to do the bidding of megalomaniacal masterminds, a service they’ve provided down through history, as the film’s opening sequence, featuring narrator Geoffrey Rush, takes pains to point out.

Their problem is that they have accidentally destroyed all the troublemaking masters they were ostensibly assisting, including Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Dracula, and even a T. Rex.

So, lacking a master, ambitious Kevin, grumpy Stuart, and affable Bob move to Antarctica, which doesn’t help.

Then, in the turbulent 1960s, the three diminutive yellow mumblers volunteer to try New York, then attend a villain convention in Orlando called Villain-Con, where they encounter keynote speaker Scarlett Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock), who fits their bill in her determination to be the world’s most destructive female super-villain or the Queen of England, or both.

And she’s accompanied by her inventor husband Herb (voiced by Jon Hamm).

So the three title characters must compete for the right to become Overkill’s henchthingies, in London, in the Swinging Sixties.

Which they do: Overkill takes them on and gives the trio an assignment: to steal the crown from the Tower of London.

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Finally, they have a purpose!

But the road traveled by these three characters, who look and sound like crushed bananas on helium, will remain bumpy.

You might think that the lack of one particular front-and-center Minion as a lead character (instead, the focus is either on a small army of gibberish-spouting Cheese Curls or just the three volunteers) would be a major detriment to audience involvement.

But that is not the case, as these characters somehow manage to hold youngsters –- and lots of oldsters as well — in the palms of their little yellow hands.

And while, yes, the minion phenomenon certainly qualifies as a merchandising bonanza, the question is: does the movie work on its own as visual entertainment and fun?

Well, given that minions are pretty close to irresistible for the young target audience, the answer has to be yes.

The script, by Brian Lynch, is obviously aimed at the kids, whose appreciative laughter should be just about constant.  But despite being a celebration of child-friendly silliness, the screenplay includes plenty of adult humor and classic soundtrack songs by British rock groups and period references that the little ones will barely notice and that will keep the chaperones engaged.

Directors Pierre Coffin (who co-directed the first two films and who voices the title characters in this one) and Kyle Balda lead a game voice cast that also includes Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Jennifer Saunders, and Steve Coogan, and the breakneck pacing never flags: the bits and gags come at us as if launched from an automatic weapon.

So we’ll miniaturize 3 stars out of 4 for this inventive, energetic, and zany wiseguy toon that will have the kids in attendance going bananas.

I mean, dang, these critters are cute!  To say nothing of funny.

Minions despicable? Not even close.

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