Tag Archives: Allison Janney


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.

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Trent:      Duncan, on a scale of one to ten, what do you think you are?

Duncan:  A six.

Trent:      I think you are a three. Since I have been dating your Mum I don’t see you putting your self out there bud. You can try and get that score up at my beach house this summer.

Written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who collaborated on the 2011 film THE DESCENDANTS, THE WAY WAY  BACK  is a very funny and thoughtful film. I laughed out loud the more this film went on. A lot of the humour comes from the brilliantly written character Owen, played with great charm and outrageousness by Sam Rockwell.

Duncan (Liam James), an awkward teenage boy, who has been taken by his mother, Pam (Toni Collette) and her nasty new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) on a beachside summer holiday. Pam and Trent aren’t very interested in Duncan. Trent’s teenage daughter Steph (Zoe Levin) is a confident, bitchy alpha female, so there is no respite for Duncan there either. Duncan’s holiday is going from bad to worse until he is befriended by Owen, a carefree employee of the local water park.

The self-centred adults behave badly. Pam and Trent drink, party and get stoned with Trent’s friends, Kip and Joan. Trent’s alcoholic neighbour, Betty (Allison Janney), is the fifth dysfunctional adult in this drama. She is brash, garrulous and obnoxious. Somehow her children are well balanced and empathetic and form part of the group of children that are better behaved than the slacker adults.

Fortunately Owen decides to mentor Duncan. With gloriously inappropriate behaviour he introduces Duncan to fun and mischief, in striking contrast to overbearing Trent’s  behaviour. Steve Carell is surprisingly good at playing such a bad character.

The ensemble cast all perform well and are directed with a lovely balance of humour and pathos. The story of an awkward boy struggling to fit into a blended family is a little conventional but Nat Faxon and Jim Rash tackle the story with freshness and charm. I strongly recommend THE WAY WAY BACK.