Credit: Universal

Their very name means follower, underling, flunky, lackey, groupie, buttkisser, bootlicker, toadie, stooge. That might have inhibited the Despicable Me franchisees from devoting a whole feature to the warbling munchkin army known as Minions. At least, it should have. As cuddly as the yellow rubber guys admittedly are, bobbing loyally beside Despicable’s Gru (Steve Carell) or singing in their own four-minute short videos, the gang simply can’t sustain an hour and a half on their own. The buoyant opening sequence of Minions only buttresses that point, showing their historic attempts to be slaves for evildoers, from a T. Rex to Napoleon. It’s an imaginative burst but then the noisome plot kicks in, finding three Minions in New York City, 1968. A campaign billboard for Richard Nixon teases a more subversive comedy about power worshipping and pack mentality—why else set the action in that era?—but it never materializes. Instead our chirpy pals are double-crossed by a supervillain named Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), who’s basically Cruella de Vil with grenade launchers. Directors Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda provide the submental Spanglish voices of the Minions, which are calibrated to tickle out maximum giggles from the film’s toddler audience. Not from their parents. If Minions were a toy, you’d hide its batteries. C+

2015 movie
  • Movie
  • 91 minutes