Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
For those of us who want to participate in a million minion march, "Minions," the "Despicable Me" prequel has arrived, smoothly directed by Kyle Balda (The Lorax).
Bright and energetic, this animated tale in vivacious 3D, describes the origin of minions, those pill shaped, chattering, overall-wearing creatures that make us laugh in spite of all.
The story is off to a flying leap thanks to the wondrous voiceover by Geoffrey Rush, who speaks in a hybrid of Masterpiece Theater and "Pirates of the Caribbean." We see the prancing yellow M&M-like creatures through all eras of history. The groupie latch onto a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Then they follow a brute caveman who makes the mistake of slapping a huge bear with a flyswatter.
That doesn't work out.
In the Dark Ages, they follow a Vlad the Impaler, personified as Dracula. Wanting to impress him, they pull the blinds back to show him a birthday cake in full sunlight.
He turns to powder in an instant.
All the minions want is a villain to aid.
They make their way to New York, during the tumultuous 1960s and witness a TV commercial from Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) a blend of Cruella de Vil and Cat Woman.
The ambulatory yellow lozenges have their work cut out for them.
There are solid helpings of irreverent jokes here which are almost (but not quite) at the level of "Trainwreck," but the main draw is the minions themselves as they scamper, jump and sputter their way to a life of obsequiousness. Speaking in a jumble of Spanish and French, very much like the painter Dali, it is a feast of delight to watch them as they make their own meaning out of chaos.
Less thrilling are the long chase sequences, with lots of explosions and crashes, which tend to drown out the unique quirkiness of this story that hinge on the confusion of verbal communication and novel, unexpected sight gags.
When the minions are yelling and running around every curve and corner, the film ceases to become truly madcap or as fun as its beginning, borrowing cues from many action films, including "The Avengers."
But, just when one's eyes feel as if they might zone out, a quip is heard by British funnyman Steve Coogan that makes everything rise to the occasion once more.
The best of "Minions" are the beings themselves, sans plot or motivation. These diminutive amarillo-toned people who lust after bananas, may be an acquired taste but there is something inherently Dadaist in their shredded verbiage coupled with a hapless, yet curiously joyful circumstance.
Minions they may be, but they are also human.
Write Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org