After such a long time trying, I finally got around to seeing Minions. Of course, by that time, I had heard a lot of whispering that it wasn’t that great. And it wasn’t. That’s not to say that it wasn’t quite enjoyable. It just wasn’t up to the two Despicable Me films. It was written by Brian Lynch, who is basically a comic book writer. His main screen credit before was another film I wanted to love but which somehow missed, Puss in Boots. But let’s make no mistake here: the main problem is the script.
Minions is at times very funny. And as an adorer of these little yellow creatures, I was constantly entertained. But there was not enough of a plot to hang the movie on. The second act is incredibly episodic. Basically, the Minions find themselves living in the arctic because they have a very bad habit of destroying the evil people they work for. But their lives lack meaning, so Kevin, Stuart, and Bob set out in search of a new “boss.” That’s a fine setup. What’s more, given that it takes place in 1968, it sets up the introduction of the young Gru.
But the plot lacks much in the way of motivation, even with that very clear setup. I don’t especially like to second guess writers, but this one is prime for what I consider a modern 5-act structure: (1) the Minions set out on their journey; (2) they overcome many obstacles; (3) they arrive in civilization; (4) they find a new boss and things go terribly wrong; (5) it gets resolved. Now that is actually an outline of the film. But the structure isn’t there. Almost the entire film stays in act 4. That would have been fine, but it would have required a different structure — even a different story.
It would have required something else too: a better villain. Scarlet Overkill is one of the most boring villains ever. Even her big introduction was lame. I get that it — like the Despicable Me films — was making fun of corporate culture. And certainly business people make a big deal of the most banal celebrities. But that doesn’t work in a film. And it certainly doesn’t work here where we are expected to spend about an hour with this tedious character. Clearly, Lynch understood this because he created Herb Overkill — Scarlet’s husband and Q. Now he was interesting and well worth saving for later films.
In addition, Scarlet Overkill who is so furocious at the beginning turns out not to be much of a super-villain as she fights with the Minions. And in the end, little boy Gru seems to be a lot more together than he is four decades later. Mostly, it is all a mess. I’ll admit: a very creative mess, but a mess nonetheless. There is another big problem that was not Lynch’s fault. Scarlet Overkill was almost indistinguishable from Lucy Wilde in Despicable Me 2. And Herb Overkill was just a slight variation on Vector in Despicable Me.
As to the question of whether I will buy Minions when it comes out on DVD… Are you kidding?! Of course I will. They’re adorable! Not as adorable as Agnes, but very adorable nonetheless.