Henchmen from Despicable Me shuffle into the spotlight for this prequel
Easily the stars of Despicable Me and its sequel, the pill-shaped, dungaree-sporting critters return for their own animated movie. Simply titled Minions, it's a prequel to the previous films where our yellow friends assisted evil-genius-turned-father-of-three Gru. As the breakneck Geoffrey Rush-narrated intro reveals, minions have been on our planet for millennia. Looking for a master to serve, these hapless henchmen manage to inadvertently kill every boss they find – from a T-Rex to a pharaoh.
Eventually, one minion – Kevin – comes up with a plan: to locate a new villain to kowtow to. He's joined by the absent-minded, guitar-loving Stuart and the enthusiastic-but-basically-useless Bob, with the trio winding up in America, heading to a villains convention. There they meet Scarlett Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock) and, after winning a competition to become her next servants, they head to London, where Scarlett and her inventor husband Herb (Jon Hamm) plan to steal the Crown Jewels.
Unfortunately, here's where the problems mount up. Firstly, bowler hats, tea-sipping and the Beatles may be amusing fodder for American audiences, but writer Brian Lynch and directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin (the latter doubles up as the voice of the minions, as with previous efforts) present an uninventive tourist's-eye view. What's worse, however, is that the film has rather lost the sweetness of its predecessors. Scarlett Overkill is a one-dimensional character, with Bullock adding little. Much better are the family of bank-robbers – led by Michael Keaton's patriarch – but they all but disappear from the story after the first act.
The minions are still as cute as ever – particularly Bob, dragging his teddy bear along with him – as they gabble away in their hotchpotch Euro-lingo. Yet, while watching them dance, sing and play football will keep the kids amused, you can't help but think they were funnier in support, not least because putting them front and centre diminishes their anarchic impact. To borrow from their latest master, it's basically overkill.
General release from Fri 26 Jun.