Minions (2015) 47

The MINIONS 3D computer-animated comedy movie begins from the dawn of time, with the relatively simple-minded MINIONS evolving from single-celled organisms, and then starting with the Jurassic Era becoming fiercely loyal beings who live just to serve history’s most despicable masters. The forever-young goggles-wearing yellow henchmen, from the two delightful ‘Despicable Me’ childrens’ movies, now have starring roles in this latest film produced by Illumination Entertainment for Universal Pictures. Sandra Bullock finally gets the role of a lifetime as the nasty super-villain, ‘Scarlett Overkill’.

‘Scarlett Overkill’ does mention the bard, and to quote William Shakespeare “She vaunted ‘mongst her minions t’ other day” (Henry VI Part 2). This retro ‘Despicable Me’ prequel is set during 1968 initially in New York and Orlando, with wonderful pop culture icons/references throughout. In the Swinging 60s London finale, Scarlett Overkill alongside her inventor husband Herb, wants to steal Queen Elizabeth’s crown from the Tower of London. The trio of Minions – Stuart, Kevin and Bob pass the henchmen recruitment process at Villain-Com International. Scarlett Overkill gives the job to her new henchmen, the trio of Minions, KEVIN (the leader), STUART (the teenage rebel with his ukulele) and the diminutive and very lovable BOB carrying Tim his Teddy Bear, and is easily identifiable with his brown/green “Heterochromia Iridum”. Via the bedtime story of THE THREE LITTLE PIGS, with “Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf” on the soundtrack, Scarlet threatens to kill the minions if they fail to steal the crown.

Most of the Minions have a somewhat childish sense of humour, with overall personalities like the ‘Raving Rabbids’ of video game fame. When Bob pulls out Excalibur from Sword in the Stone, Queen Elizabeth is removed from the United Kingdom throne, and Bob is crowned ‘King Bob’ with “Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No.1 in D” on the soundtrack, then Bob immediately abdicates to permit the coronation of Scarlett Overkill as Queen Scarlett.

Cleverly narrated by Geoffrey Rush, when the three minions visit Orlando Florida, three years before Walt Disney World opened, a young FELONIOUS GRU (Steve Carell) gives a brief cameo performance, with his mother MARLENA GRU. Rude humour and brief sexual innuendo, with classic slapstick comedy routines, are the prevailing themes, providing adult content that pre-teenagers will not understand – from putting her mammary glands back into her costume, to minions wearing tiny red thongs and tighty-whiteys, stylised queen waving, abbey road, yellow Beefeaters, yellow fire hydrants, yellow rubber ducky, the ocean liner FRANCE docked in New York, the adjective ‘coronated’ incorrectly used as a verb, Queen Elizabeth (Jennifer Saunders) is called ‘La Cucaracha’, inside Buckingham Palace playing polo on the backs of the Queen’s Corgis.

Adults will easily recognise Sydney Opera House (under construction), Uluru, and the multitude of visual homages to Hollywood movies including – Singing In The Rain (Make ’em Laugh), Nosferatu, Creature From the Black Lagoon, Forbidden Planet, Back To The Future, Hair, The Flintstones.

There are deliberate visual mistakes for the year 1968, in the USA sequences such as – three phase electricity power-lines strung from power poles, green emergency exit signs.   London still does not have red fire hydrants on its streets.

For young children there is the sound of flatulence, and many child-specific visual delights, such as the pet rat (pochi), dribbling, bananas, looking through y-front underpants.

Surprisingly, MINIONS director Pierre Coffin, voices all 899 minions, together with Chris Renaud. The minions provide easily understood visual cues, and as polygots do understand English. They only speak the minimalist minionese language, which includes precise food references, which do often sound almost exactly like English, French, Spanish, Malay, Indonesian, Hebrew, Japanese, Russian, Korean, Hindi, Italian, et cetera. You will hear many English words, such as ‘banana’, ‘thank you’, ‘hello’, ‘no’, ‘this one’, ‘give it to me’.

The well-chosen music soundtrack features 1960s music icons including – KC & The Sunshine Band, Madness, Owl City, Aerosmith, Smashing Pumpkins, Bo Diddley, The Rolling Stones, The Turtles (Happy Together), The Who (My Generation), The Kinks (You Really Got Me), Donovan (Mellow Yellow), The Doors (Break On Through – To the Other Side), Rick Springfield (I’ve Done Everything for You), Jimmy Hendrix (Foxy Lady), songs by The Beatles including “Got To Get You Into My Life”, however the lyrics are usually sung in the minionese language.

Please remember to stay for all of the end credits which finishes with superbly-rendered 3D appearances by most of the cast, whilst the minions sing ‘Revolution’ by The Beatles, and then plug the ‘Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem’ ride at Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida. Very entertaining 91 minutes, rated PG with mild animated violence, is quite suitable for all ages, but especially when experienced in a cinema, with an audience of constantly laughing teenagers and adults.

Voice Cast includes – Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Allison Janney, Michael Keaton, Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud, Jennifer Saunders, Geoffrey Rush, Steve Coogan, Steve Carell, Katy Mixon, Michael Beattie.

MINIONS exhibited in both 3D and 2D versions in Australian cinemas, from 18th June 2015.

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