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Minions (2015) Review

I saw “Minions” accompanied by Mertmas and four of his friends as part of a 9th Birthday treat, so here’s their perspective: “Minions” pretty much hits its target market spot on. The Minions themselves retain their goofy adorability and their mix of slapstick comedy and inferred verbal repartee still amuses, as do moments of potty humour. Although it sags in the middle, the finale manages to kick things back into gear and it ends on a high note thanks to a welcome cameo reappearance from a certain character.

None of the kids I saw it with seemed unduly troubled by the fact the story wasn’t particularly strong nor did they seem bothered by the fact many of the ‘in jokes’ referencing 1960’s London and New York went over their heads and, to be honest, struggled to be particularly relevant or recognisable to many of the parents there either.

Spinning off from the mega-hit sequel “Despicable Me 2” – and handily keeping the property at the front of audiences’ minds until “Despicable Me 3” lands in 2017 – “Minions” is the latest in a long line of properties to try to promote popular sidekicks to centre stage and unfortunately, it just doesn’t quite work. For those who believed the success of the “Despicable Me” franchise was down to the eminently merchandisable Minions, this comes as a solid reminder of just how important Gru is and a timely reminder that it rarely works well when comic relief characters are promoted to feature-length leads; see “Penguins Of Madagascar”, “Caravan Of Courage: An Ewok Adventure” and “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” for other examples.

Without Gru, Margo, Edith, Agnes and the rest of the gang, the Minions have nothing to spark off against. Unfortunately, the character of Scarlett Overkill is thoroughly undercooked, and where the original film created a convincing subverted world of villains and their nefarious plans, The Overkills’ motivations and actions just seem random and disjointed. The voice cast acquit themselves well but it’s mostly forgettable nonsense based against a clichéd backdrop of sixties tropes and a mishmash of references.

Feeling more like a direct to video spin-off than a worthy feature, there’s a slight cheapness to the whole thing. It doesn’t have the lovingly crafted feel that marked the previous “Despicable Me” films as something quite special and it certainly doesn’t help that most of the film’s best sequences have been used to make up the trailers. With little direct competition until “Inside Out” at the tail end of July, there’s little doubt that this will do well at the UK box office but it’s a triumph of timing rather than content, a disappointing misstep from a previously impeccable series. Mertmas would probably give this an 8, but I’m betting there’ll be more parental eyes on watches rather than the screen during showings…