Sometimes, things made for kids (and young adults) are outstanding. I'm a big fan of things like Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events, and you don't have to look further than Pixar to know that "kid movies" can be just as interesting for adults as they are for children.
Minions, however, is not such a kids movie.
A spin-off of the enjoyable Despicable Me, Minions shoves that franchise's side characters into the spotlight -- an honor I'm not sure they deserved. The little yellow characters make their way to VillainCon with the hope of finding a new boss to serve.
Sarah Blaskovich and I, partners in crime in our own right, saw Minions together. We managed not to fall asleep long enough to have a conversation about our thoughts.
Sarah: Of all the movies we've reviewed so far, Britton, this one was my least favorite. Did you like it?
Britton: I don't think it was a terrible movie, but... I'm going to get some crap for this, but I would rather have watched Magic Mike XXL again instead of Minions.
Maybe it's because neither of us have kids, but we both seemed to get pretty bored pretty quickly. I thought some of the jokes were funny, and I have no problem with seeing a good movie aimed at kids, but this one seemed to lack much substance for any viewers over the age of 11.
While Despicable Me had a sweet, tenderhearted message at its core, Minions has nothing.
Sarah: My biggest annoyance with the movie was that the Minions weren't captivating enough to take center stage. They babble in a fake language, like toddlers, so everything they say has to be inferred through their motions.
Watching this movie is like sitting across from 100 toddlers for two hours and trying to let them tell a story.
No, wait: Watching this movie is like South Park without the cuss words.
Britton: I'm a bit more tolerable of the Minions and their lack of English skills than you are, but I still felt like the visual jokes were overplayed. They're fine as a sideshow in Despicable Me (which Minions is spun off from), but even 90 minutes of the same type of gag gets really tiring.
I was actually much more interested in watching you, Sarah, because you told me that this was your first 3D movie theater experience and I wanted to see how you would react to different visual tricks. What did you think of that part of the movie?
Sarah: The 3D touches were really fun. The 3D effects helped make the cartoonish characters seem more life-like. When a cartoon bird fluttered over our heads and right in front of my face, I think I gasped, like a bird was really in the theater.
An hour into the movie, however, my eyes started to sting. I can understand why a good movie shouldn't need 3D effects. But then again, neither of us are saying this is a good movie.
Britton: Yeah, in first for our two-person movie reviews, we actually agree on this one: Minions was "meh" at best.
I think part of that came down to the fact that there wasn't much of the depth that you'll find in, say, most Pixar movies. And I don't just mean "adult" jokes that are safe for kids too.
The plot revolves around the titular Minions looking for their new "boss," a new villain to serve. But that setting is mostly just an excuse to put the characters into wacky, humorous situations. It's hard to get to the end of the movie and think that the protagonists actually grew or even learned anything.
One thing you brought up as we were leaving the theater was that there was no moral lesson in it like you find in most worthwhile kids movies, and I totally agree. While Despicable Me had a sweet, tenderhearted message at its core, Minions has nothing. Even when presented with perfect opportunities to grow out of their need for a "boss" or even become heroes rather than villains, the characters just remain stagnant.
Kids may laugh at the jokes, but they won't come out of the theater having learned to be better people.
Sarah: It's fitting that this movie came out in the summertime -- when kids eat sugary cereal, sleep in and watch fluff movies. There are a lot better kids movies than Minions.