Movie review: The Minions shoulder an entire movie, though they don't even have shoulders

Sandra Bullock voices villainness Scarlet Overkill, who takes the Minions under her skirt.
Sandra Bullock voices villainness Scarlet Overkill, who takes the Minions under her skirt.PHOTO: UNIVERSAL PICTURES AND ILLUMINATION ENTERTAINMENT

The first full-length movie starring the yellow creatures is more like a series of skits strung together

MINIONS (PG)

91 minutes/Opens tomorrow/ Rating: 3/5

The story: Without a villain to serve, the Minions (Pierre Coffin) are purposeless and listless. So adventurous Kevin, rocker Stuart and little Bob head off into the world to search for a despicable master. They find Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) at Villain-Con in Orlando in 1968. With the help of gadgets from her inventor husband Herb (Jon Hamm), the trio attempt to steal the Queen's crown in London. A spin-off and prequel to the Despicable Me movies.

The Minions were the breakout stars of the Despicable Me animated flicks. Cheerfully yellow and irrepressibly riotous, they had a knack for causing mayhem and an endearing ability to laugh at themselves. They were like eager-to-please children running amok, babbling away cutely in baby-talk gobbledygook.

There is no doubt that they are entertaining as sidekicks and in short little segments. Their nonsensical banana song, done barbershop quartet style, has been viewed more than 57 million times on YouTube. And that is just for one version of the clip.

Can they shoulder an entire movie on their own though? Especially since they have no shoulders.

The answer is - sort of.

Instead of attempting to subtitle the Minions, actor Geoffrey Rush provides the droll narration of how the creatures have sought out the biggest and baddest through the ages. There are amusing vignettes of the Minions in prehistoric times, in ancient Egypt and with Dracula. But inadvertently, they end up killing those they serve.

For fans, there is also the fun of finding out how they ended up with their trademark overalls look.

A movie needs to be more than a series of little skits strung together, however, so a new superbaddie is introduced. Unfortunately, Scarlet Overkill is not very interesting despite being hyped as the first female super villain. So she has some kind of mechanical contraption for a skirt which holds weapons, big deal. The kooky contraptions her husband comes up with are more imaginative.

Sandra Bullock (Gravity, 2013) also seems miscast as her voice lacks the oomph and character needed for an animated evildoer. Other big names lending their voices include Jon Hamm (Mad Men, 2007-2015) as Scarlet's hubby as well as Allison Janney (The West Wing, 1999-2006) and Michael Keaton (Birdman, 2014) as a bank-robbing couple.

The best voice work, though, was by co-director Pierre Coffin, who breathes life into Kevin, Stuart, Bob and a whole bunch of other Minions. Now, that is wicked.

bchan@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2015, with the headline 'Minions provide the best bits'. Print Edition | Subscribe