Animated spin-offs are a common occurrence. You have Shrek and Puss In Boots, Madagascar and Penguins of Madagascar and, of course, Cars and Planes. Therefore, it came as no surprise that Despicable Me was due a spin-off, simply on that basis. Although how do you effectively stretch out secondary characters, who don't speak English, and all look the same into a 90 minute film?
You surround them with well-known voices like Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Steve Coogan, Allison Janney, Jennifer Saunders and have Geoffrey Rush narrate the whole thing. The film begins millions of years ago, depicting the Minions in the dinosaur era following a Tyrannosaurus Rex. After bungling that, they set their sights on cavemen. That, too, fails miserably. Sure enough, it moves forward until it reaches the Napoleonic Wars and, after that fails, they decide to retreat to Antarctica. There, they grow weary and depressed because - as we know - minions need masters. Three of their ilk, Kevin, Bob and Stuart, decide to set out in search of a new villain to serve.
Enter Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) and her husband Herb (Jon Hamm) - they're a supervillain duo who've set their sights on stealing the Crown of England from Queen Elizabeth, voiced by the always hilarious Jennifer Saunders. The minions, who must followed the command of their master no matter what, bungle an attempt at stealing the crown and engage in a high-speed chase through the streets of London. Musical set-piece follows musical set-piece, which follows lots of shouting and gibberish from the Minions.
Minions is perfect fodder for children at this time of year. It's light, breezy and is unadulteratedly silly. The minions themselves, Kevin, Bob and Stuart, are unique enough that you can tell which is which and what their individual personality is. However, what works as a five-minute skit in Despicable Me is now pulled out to an entire film. And that's where the beedaboo dialogue gets wearisome for the adult supervision. Bullock, who has fantastic comedic timing, is left just playing a straight-faced villain whilst Hamm has some of the best lines in the film. Likewise, Allison Janney and Michael Keaton - who played a wholesome family with a not-so-wholesome pasttime - are quite funny in their parts.
It's a decent comedy with plenty of laughs for the little ones, but it all feels so slight and one-note that it can become a bit boring in places for anyone over the ages of six or eight. That said, any children or nieces / nephews you have are going to love it. Just don't expect to be too entertained yourself.