‘Minions’ Review: An Instant Classic, Definitely

Universal Pictures

“Right on,” said Herb Overkill, husband of Scarlet Overkill — the most legendary supervillain of the late ’60s to the three main Minions. “You guys are crazy, little, and way yellow, and I dig that.”

Herb nailed it. But in a more real way than I expected. As in, Herb really liked the Minions and wasn’t just saying that to be cute — as in, I thought I was going to have to pretend to dig the Minions for the sake of being contrarian (which required being all in on Minions), but then actually watched the film and now have fallen for all things Minions. Protect Minions at all costs.

I couldn’t believe it. I can’t believe it. I didn’t even have to pretend. I just loved them. And loved this film.

Minions is excellent. That’s basically the review. Go see it. Feel free to stop reading, because that’s the takeaway. Good day.

If your skepticism still exists, I fully understand. I know why sitting through something like Minions seems so terrible to endure. And to be frank, there are moments early in the film when it does itself no favors. But as they say — if you give the Minions an inch of love, they’ll give you a mile.

Here’s a perfect example: The first 30 seconds of the film are enough to make someone with the agency over their own decisions leave the theater. It’s the three main Minions singing the Universal Studios theme song in that high-pitched terrible Minion voice. It’s painful. It’s terrible. I still can’t get it out of my head. And even as I sit here, ready to try to convince adults that this film is worthwhile, I’ll never forgive the creators of this film for that beginning.

Seriously, if you go see this film, find a way to skip the first two minutes. Trust me, you’ll figure out the plot.

This is Part 2 of my Minions discovery. In Part 1, I outlined the extent to which I had zero insight into the Despicable Me franchise, for which Minions is apparently a prequel of sorts. This is helpful, because Minions requires no prior knowledge. And not simply “no prior knowledge of other related films,” but “no prior knowledge, period.” You can go in dark to Minions — not having a single piece of knowledge in your brain — and still get it.

Brains are not for Minions. All you need is a heart.

In the beginning of Minions, the purpose of these creatures is made clear. There are a lot of Minions, most of whom look quite similar. Minions are a social construct, so I think it’s safe to say they’re a race. Minions have been in these Earth streets for eons, predating humans. And all that the Minions want is to be enslaved by cruel masters.

Seriously. That’s the ideal life of a Minion. Not freedom — indentured servitude.

But the Minions are morons. Actually, they’re geniuses who refuse to capitalize on their accidental genius, which in turn makes them morons. All they want is a tyrannical master to rule them, but whenever they find one, they accidentally kill it.

This is the moment every sane being would celebrate. It’s instant freedom. You won, Minion, GO BE FREE. But no, not the Minions. When they accidentally kill their rude master (examples: a T. rex, early man, an Egyptian ruler, Dracula, Napoleon), they get sad and attempt to find the next ruler who can make their lives a living hell.

The Minions had Stockholm syndrome before Stockholm existed.

The movie’s three main Minions are Bob, Stuart, and Kevin. These Minions With Attitude are looking for another ruler to make their lives hell for another 600 million years, so, led by Kevin, they vow to go out into the world and not return until they have found the most diabolical “massa” around. So they leave. And wouldn’t you know it, they end up in New York City in 1968.

As to not gloss over anything, yes, their names are Bob, Stuart, and Kevin.

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All Minions have basic names (we briefly learn of a Mike, an Earl, and a Carl). That’s a cool, endearing thing about the Minions. A not-so-cool thing is how they’re often generalized: as gibberish speakers

No. Not even close. This isn’t gibberish. Minions is a foreign-language film. Most of the time that Minions are speaking, they’re just screaming. When they’re not screaming, they’re saying words. Do I understand all of these words? Absolutely not, but the same is true when I go to Tokyo. Or Moscow. Or Jacksonville. It’s just a different culture, with a different dialect.

Don’t throw your hatred at the Minions because they’re different.

Having said that, from a comedic standpoint, this gibberish shit is hilarious. It actually grows on you over time, because you catch some real English words every now and then. They sneak them in. The one thing you can count on is the Minions saying each other’s names quite clearly. Also, every so often, like a care package of sorts, you get a “que paso.” It works, this gag. It’s a good bit they do just enough to not be annoying, and it stays funny throughout the film.

Having said that, comedy aside, this movie is super real. As soon as the Minions get into New York City, Bob has trouble catching a cab. In New York. He is ultimately mistaken for luggage and thrown into the trunk; when discovered, he is thrown into the street.

Oh, just what it’s like to be different — in America. 

“Everybody wanna be a minion, but nobody wanna be a minion.” –Anonymous

After bouncing around NYC, they find themselves in a mall and get locked inside once it closes. In that mall, they find a television, and on that television, commercials. One of those commercials is a spot for VillainCon.

The three Minions are ecstatic. They found their Stockholm. Unfortunately, it’s in Orlando. But nothing stands in the way of a Minion and his Stockholm. So they go outside.

They’re thankfully picked up by a sweet family that happens to be going to Orlando.

Who just happens to be going to Orlando? Could they possibly be going to VillainCon? Wait, there’s no way they could be villains, could they?

It doesn’t seem like it. They’re just so sweet and wonderful.

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There’s no way in hell they’re going to that den of sin. They’re probably taking a nice family trip to Epcot. I mean, there’s a baby in the car aft—

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THE BABY HANDED HIS DAD A GUN AND THEY WENT TO GO ROB A BANK WHILE THE MINIONS WERE IN THE CAR.

This was the moment it was clear Minions wasn’t messing around. They were out here — yes, coming for every single one of your dollars — but also succeeding in trying to be an actual humorous comedy.

THERE WAS A STICKUP IN MINIONS, LIKE I’M NOT HERE FOR THAT. LIKE YOU’RE NOT HERE FOR THAT. 

In their getaway, the cops chase them and, in perfect Minion fashion, the Minions accidentally shoot a rocket launcher that stops the cops and gives them further freedom. The family becomes forever indebted to the Minions, taking them all the way to Orlando.

Upon reaching Orlando, they finally find who they’re looking for: Scarlet Overkill, the star of VillainCon.

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In an arena, she flies out and everyone loses their minds, Minions included. She’s Taylor Swift and Michelle Obama and Cruella De Vil and Serena Williams all in one. Once she quiets the crowd, her first line is this:

“When I started out, people said a woman could never rob a bank as well as a man. Well, times have changed.”

The crowd explodes. Men dressed up like their hero are near death from her presence. It’s like watching Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem play spades against Audre Lorde and bell hooks. When it comes to villainy, Scarlet is just clearly the best. Continuing her speech:

“Have any of you ever dreamt of working for the greatest supervillain of all time?”

The crowd explodes again, begging to work with her. So she offers a deal: Whoever can take the ruby out of her hand wins. And in that moment, for almost two minutes, male villains of all shapes and sizes bum-rush the stage, attempting to fight her for the ruby. And for almost two minutes, she beats up about 25 men. And none can take the ruby from her.

Somehow, in the melee, the ruby ends up in Bob’s mouth. And just like that, the commotion stops and Scarlet Overkill crowns them the winners, and the Minions become her understudies.

They’ve found their Stockholm.

Scarlet invites them onto her plane and brings them back to her evil crib in England. There, they meet her rail-thin, heady husband Herb. At their home — when they’re not public villains — they seem like a cute couple. Peaceful, even. They’ve welcomed the Minions like family, caring for them like any good hosts would treat exchange students abroad in a new land for a semester.

But then, suddenly, she gives them a mission. Not a big one; just them stealing the crown from the queen of England. Oh, and if they fail, she’ll kill them.

This is the evil tyrant they’ve always been looking for. They’re scared, but they have to do it. Also, they have to let the rest of the Minion race know they’ve found their new tyrant. And when they do (via phone call), the rest of the Minion race begins their arduous journey to England.

At this point, I’m all in on the preservation of the Minion race. I’m unable to fully explain why, but I’m emotional about these yellow, goggled non-people. They’re actually quite charming. The Minions rollout really did the actual Minions a disservice. What you think going into the film — because of the Minions PR onslaught — is that you’re going to be stuck with 100 million Minions in your face at all times. But the reality is, 90 percent of the time, it’s just three. And three Minions constitute a gaggle of Minions, and a gaggle of Minions is adorbs. As in, I think I love them. As in, don’t judge a Minion by its overbearing press campaign.

You remember that decent album that happened once, Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail — an album that was widely panned, because Samsung slightly made us hate it before it ever came out? Yeah, that’s Minions. MCHG isn’t actually that bad, but we were all so fed up by being sold tablets by way of rap, that before we ever heard it, we knew we didn’t want to like it.

If the Minions rollout had any chill, there would be no backlash. On the other hand, had there been more Minions chill, the movie may have not made $400 million worldwide over the weekend.

What really matters, though, is you think you don’t like the Minions. But if you ever choose to be brave enough to meet the Minions, you’ll probably discover your worst nightmare — you like the Minions.

But enough with Jay Z. The Minions find Queen Elizabeth. Getting her crown is not easy, however. Queen Elizabeth is from Bronxville. No joke. In her repertoire of moves: the People’s Elbow.

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Yeah, like that’s not funny. And all while the Kinks play in the background. MINIONS IS SO GOOD I GOTTA JUMP BACK, WANNA KISS M’SELF.

Five minutes after this, Bob becomes king of England.

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Bob became king because in the Minions’ dramatic escape from the England police force, he pulled the sword out the stone (yes, that one), which automatically makes someone king, because of course. Following this, he has to make a speech as the new king. And in this moment, watching Bob make his gibberish speech at Buckingham Palace, I finally realized why this film was rapidly reaching “instant classic” territory.

It’s animated Pootie Tang.

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When my damie Bob goes to make his speech, he has the classic gibberish speech movie moment. The entire populace has found nothing odd with a yellow pill becoming king of England. And when he screams “KING BOB,” everyone loses it. But then he gets comfortable, lets his guard down a bit, and really starts speaking non-words. And suddenly, he is met with a sea of blank stares, almost as if he’s moments away from the jig fully being up. So, in a panic, he goes back to what he knows, screaming “KING BOB.” And just like that, everyone is back on his side, again not finding anything odd with the fact that the new king is a yellow bullet wearing goggles and overalls.

King Bob is Pootie.

Capachow on the tippi tais, you know?

While there have been a flurry of spoilers in this review, there is no way I could go into detail about the ending. The last 20 minutes are just movie magic. Just know that Bob isn’t the king for long, the Minions get enslaved (again), all of their small yellow cousins finally find England and go full-scale Million Minion March on Londontown, one minion becomes Godzilla-size, and there’s a Randy Quaid–in–Independence Day moment that will probably make you cry.

And the best part is, when it finishes, you’re like, That was a perfect film, please don’t ruin it with a sequel. And then you remember that the sequel (Despicable Me) has already happened. And that you’re never going to watch it — so Minions can always just be Minions. 

Again, long live Xenu.

Filed Under: Movies, Minions, Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2, Classic Cinema

Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ rembert