YOU can have too much of a good thing. In small doses, Despicable Me’s goggle-eyed hench-creatures are a deranged delight.
As unwitting heroes of their own big-screen adventure, these pint-sized “knights in shining denim” lose some of their loopy lustre, hindered by Brian Lynch’s flimsy script, which is disappointingly light on storyline and belly laughs. A dazzling vocal cast of gifted comic actors is repeatedly short-changed.
Very young children, who gurgle with glee at the Minions’ bonkers vernacular combining Esperanto and goobledygook, will adore the slapstick, pratfalls and the tiniest member of the Minions clan, Bob, who clutches a well-loved teddy bear called Tim.
Adults will be much harder to win over.
The lack of a coherent storyline grates as much as the lazy cultural stereotyping of the British as tea-sipping, corgi-riding folk, who frequent pubs called The Pig’s Spleen. Since the dawn of time, Minions have gravitated towards despicable masters including Tyrannosaurus Rex, Count Dracula and Napoleon. Unfortunately, these masters die prematurely – at the hands of the clumsy, yellow hench-creatures – leaving the Minions in a state of deep depression.
One brave soul named Kevin steps forth to find an evil boss for his bald, jaundiced brethren.
Flanked by Stuart and scaredy-cat Bob, Kevin leaves the Minions’ ice cave retreat bound for 1968 New York City. Cue a President Richard Nixon billboard proclaiming “Finally: a name you can trust”.
Could the Minions have stumbled upon their arch-villain?
No. The plucky trio learns about a gathering of criminals in Orlando and hitches a ride to the convention with a bank-robbing family led by Walter Nelson (voiced by Michael Keaton) and wife Madge (Allison Janney).
Their daughter Tina (Katy Mixon) points the Minions in the direction of bouffant super-villain Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock).
“If I was a minion, that’s who I’d want to work for,” she swoons.
Thus the trio pledges allegiance to Scarlet and her inventor husband Herb (Jon Hamm), who are plotting to steal the Crown Jewels from Queen Elizabeth (Jennifer Saunders).
While the soundtrack swings its flares to The Kinks and The Who, Kevin, Stuart and Bob careen around London armed with Herb’s nifty gadgets: a robo-suit, lava lamp gun and hypno-hat.
Minions has a sprinkling of giggles and doesn’t outstay its welcome, but there’s an unshakeable feeling that Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda’s film falls short. The groovy time period should be a velvet goldmine of visual gags but the best the film can muster is a nod to The Beatles and a faked moon landing.
Animation is colourful and pristine, opting for shiny surfaces and sharp angles that reduce the need for meticulous detail and realism.