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Minions

Did you ever get something you specifically asked for, thinking it'd be the greatest thing ever, and then when you actually get exactly what you want, it's not as great as you imaged and you realize you maybe shoulda never asked for it to begin with? That's kinda how I felt about Minions.

My response to both Despicable Me movies was an enthusiastic eh. I loved the minions, and the little girls are adorable, but the A plots around Gru always left me yawning. I couldn't bring myself to care enough about him, and was always waiting for the minions to come back and steal the show. I wished that there'd be a movie of just them. And now there is. And my response is a somewhat more enthusiastic eh.

There were a couple of flaws in the concept that had people questioning whether this would work from the beginning. Sure, the kids were gonna show up in droves, with their minion merch on, but would they really be as epic as we hoped? The first trouble spot that most brought up was the language barrier, the fact that the minions just speak gibberish. I actually was kind of intrigued as to how they'd handle that, and that was were part of my interest came from. The answer, it seems, is heavy narration and plenty of non-minion characters. That was a reasonable enough solution.

My problem though came from the fact that when you have that much minion speak, it makes it easier to pick out what they're saying. Turns out, it's not entirely gibberish. There's a few English words (besides banana), and I definitely caught a bunch of appropriately used Spanish. "Que paso" in asking what happened, "otro?" when trying to find another volunteer, "gracias" in thanks. I only know a few words here and there in other languages, but I'm pretty sure I picked out some French, and IMDB tells me that they say thank you in several different ones. Why was that a problem for me? While I can appreciate the "minions of the world" concept, it made my brain focus too much on what they were saying. Instead of just dismissing it as gibberish and going on with things, I was actively listening for words I'd understand. Not an issue the kids in the audience were likely to have, but it was distracting for me.

Speaking of the partial language thing, can I just say how much the banana obsession annoys me? It started with the teaser trailer for Despicable Me 2, where they sang "Barbara Ann" in gibberish. Even though they are essentially saying "Banana", I always thought that their gibberish just happened to sound like a real word. And then it just became this big thing about how they really like bananas, which I don't think was a thing in either Despicable movie, so it just bugs me that there's this whole big deal made out of an incorrect assumption. Sorry, my OCD is showing.

The other concern going in was how these little creatures that are great at stealing small scenes would carry a whole movie. The solution there was to feature 3 minions carrying the bulk of the story, with occassional cuts to what the others were doing. In other words, replace Gru with newbie baddie Scarlett Overkill (voiced by a fabulous Sandra Bullock in what is apparently her first villain), and then the three girls with three minions (who I'm told were specifically based on the girls). So now, instead of being halfway bored into the three girls waiting to see minions, I got that feeling with the trio vs the whole group. Everytime we went back to the group, it was hilarious. The trio, hit or miss.

I know I'm being a total negative nancy here, and I don't really mean to be. There were plenty of laugh out loud moments, and cuteness abounded as always. It's just that I'm not so sure that this really worked as well as an independent vehicle as I would have thought. Ironically, it was a lot of the throwback moments to the originals that I enjoyed best. The ending was pretty right on, and made me very happy. Bullock was also a win, completely relishing the role in a film I'm sure she's excited to share with her son. Still, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think I'd prefer we go back to the old way of doing things next time. That way, the minions remain a special treat and don't get old from being overdone.

Minions - \m/ \m/ \m/
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