Thursday, August 13, 2015

Minions (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“Minions” Are Lovable Villains
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

The terminology is well understood: Heroes have sidekicks; villains have minions.

Sidekicks are good guys who often provide comic relief or physical backup for a cowboy in a white hat (think: Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette), a superhero (think: Captain America and Bucky), or a private detective (think: Nero Wolf and Archie).

Minions are supposed to be bad guys, often bunglers who assist an archvillain in his evil deeds. But Illumination Entertainment got it kinda wrong when they created the helpers for Gru in those animated “Despicable Me” movies.

Bunglers, yes. But Gru’s minions were cute little guys who looked like yellow kernels of corn wearing goggles. And what’s more, we were supposed to love them!

How wrong could that be?

Well, not very. The first two “Despicable Me” films have grossed over $1.5 billion.

So now we have a third film, a spinoff simply titled “Minions.”

“Minions” -- now playing at Tropic Cinema -- is actually a prequel.

Tracing the role of these little yellow minions throughout history, we see them attach themselves to unsuccessful villain after villain -- Tyrannosaurus Rex, an Egyptian Pharaoh, Dracula, to name a few. By 1968, they are in need of a new master.

So three of the little guys -- Kevin, Stuart, and Bob -- set off to Orlando, Florida, to attend Villain-Con, a convention where baddies go to solicit henchmen. There they meet Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock), the world’s first female supervillain. Through Scarlet has many applicants, Bob wins the challenge thanks to a fumble where his teddy bear gets switched for her ruby ring.

Scarlet takes her new minions back to her headquarters in London, where she plans to steal St. Edward’s Crown. Needless to say, things go wrong. Kevin must rescue his pals from being tortured by Scarlet’s husband Herb (voiced by John Hamm), in the process foiling Scarlet from being crowned Queen of England.

And all the other minions come up from Antarctica, after riding in kangaroo pouches to escape a tribe of angry yeti (don’t ask); Kevin shrinks back to normal size after becoming a giant (well, it’s a long story); and we meet young Felonious Gru (setting up the plot for the other movies in the franchise).

In addition to co-directing the film, Pierre Coffin does all the minion voices. Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, and Steve Coogan lend their voices to assorted characters. Steve Carell reprises his role as Gru. And Geoffrey Rush acts as the story’s narrator.

Having been called “America’s Sweetheart,” Academy Award-winner Sandra Bullock decided to play against type in “Minions.” As producer Chris Meledandri puts it, “This is a side to Sandra Bullock we haven't seen before. She is really enjoying playing with this villainy. But underneath there’s a character you cannot help but fall in love with.”

You might say the same about these little yellow minions.

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