|'Balda and Coffin clearly understand exactly how to utilise the Minions to full effect in terms of the style of comedy they provide (let's face it, clever wordplay will never be their forte)'.|
It only took Illumination Entertainment and Universal two films to realise that the real stars of the Despicable Me franchise are the Minions, making their imaginatively-titled first solo feature Minions both an inevitability and an excellent business decision. With the dungaree-wearing lemon-hued hench-things currently more popular than ever, whatever co-directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin chose to have the characters do during their spin-off-cum-prequel it was likely to be a financial success.
Balda and Coffin clearly understand exactly how to utilise the Minions to full effect in terms of the style of comedy they provide (let's face it, clever wordplay will never be their forte). As such, even if the entertainment Minions provides is firmly placed at the silly slapstick end of the scale, and the pleasure the adults in the audience get from the film likely to be of the guilty variety, there's no denying that this is a fun watch throughout. At around the eighty minute mark without the end credits, some might argue Minions is too slight to ever risk becoming dull; but it feels much more like the directorial pair understand that there are times when less is more, especially when it comes to animated cinema aimed at children.
The prologue-like opening montage strikes the right tone, shifting the titular yellow ones from prehistory to the Napoleonic wars with a quick succession of pleasing gags. Things slow down once the central trio of Kevin, Stuart and Bob (all voiced by Coffin) head to the USA during the late '60s, giving plenty of opportunities for more historical humour and a great soundtrack to boot.
It's when matters shift to "Villain-Con" and the introduction of Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), with screenwriter Brian Lynch struggling to settle on a satisfying narrative. The film shifts wildly from one idea to the next, never staying with one long enough to even give it a chance to become properly developed. Scarlet is never more than satisfactory in the antagonistic role, hurt further by poorly written ideas surrounding her. Regularly touted as "the world's first female supervillain", this idea is frustratingly undercut by Scarlet's continual reliance on husband Herb (Jon Hamm), a character who feels like a lazy retread of Vector from Despicable Me. Lynch is lucky not only that the Minions are there to carry the film through with their charm, but that Balda and Coffin know how to ensure they do this consistently.
With Minions doing better business than either of the Despicable Me films, and a third instalment in that franchise set for release in 2017, the Minions are undoubtedly here to stay. It's surely a case of when, rather than if, they get a second film of their own at this stage; whether it will again be able to coast on the popularity of the banana-loving blobs, without a far more robust story and cast of characters than on offer here, remains to be seen.
Minions is released on UK Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 16th November 2015.