The widespread critical and commercial success of Despicable Me I & II guaranteed that the little yellow beings would get their own film. While the character of Gru (Steve Carrell) was their leader/master/boss in the original pair of films, the prequel, Minions, promised to fill us in on how Kevin, Stuart, and Bob ended up working in the lab and wreaking mischief everywhere.
While the beginning of the film provides a sort of ‘evolutionary tale’ of these single-celled organisms (complete with a T-Rex, Napoleon, and other bad guys) and their misadventures, the film’s narrative finds the Minions hitchhiking with the serial killing family, the Nelsons (Michael Keaton and Alison Janney). But when they fall in with Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock), they discover a whole new level of evil to follow, and their exploits continue.
If you enjoyed the first two films, you’ll enjoy seeing more of these likable deviants, but I’m not sure it’s quite as funny, mostly because of the absence of Carrell for most of the film. Bullock tries hard, and so does Jon Hamm as Scarlett’s husband, Herb. But while the Minions make for colorful additions, and stars of mini-movies like the ones included here in the 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Combo Pack, there isn’t enough story here to nail down a feature film. [Other exclusives include the Story of the Minions and an Interactive World Map.]
Still, there’s something to be said for the way that the Minions struggle to find a leader and then follow him/her. Realistically, we can be like that, too, can’t we? Whether it’s a spiritual leader or a world leader, we change our tunes, opinions, and ideas like the way the weather changes, blown about by the wind. Our ideas about what is true, what is right, and what is worthwhile can be bullied about by whoever we’ve heard from last, which is even more troubling in a world of constant news and opinion via social media, news, and public opinion. What does it mean to figure out what’s right? Will we know when we find it, or will we continue to wander hopelessly because we don’t even know what we’re looking for?
After several false starts, Minions figures out who or what it is, and locks in, just in time for the Despicable Me we know and love.