Most of us can probably agree that the Minions, those yellow creatures with their silly language from the Despicable Me movies, are some of the cutest characters ever introduced in film. They are also, not surprisingly, some of the most easily marketed. And so Hollywood, never a place to leave well enough alone, decided that they needed their own movie. Below are our eight things parents should know before taking their kids to see Minions.
1. What’s it about?
Well, the Minions, of course. The movie is supposed to serve as a sort-of prequel to the first Despicable Me, explaining where exactly the Minions came from and how they came to be in the service of Gru. There’s a long introductory montage that shows them evolving from single-cell yellow organisms in the primordial soup into their modern selves, always on the quest to find and serve (and most often accidentally kill) the most evil creature they can find. A good chunk of this introduction was in the trailer, so you’ve probably already seen most of it. Eventually, we end up in the 1960s (it turns out that the Minions are apparently immortal), where they are once more trying to find someone suitably evil to attach themselves to, and through a series of silly adventures they find Scarlett Overkill, voiced by Sandra Bullock, who has a ridiculous desire to steal Queen Elizabeth’s crown.
2. Will my kids enjoy it?
While I did not go with my kids, I saw the movie in the middle of the afternoon in a theater that was about half full of families with little kids. Judging from the laughter I heard, and lack of crying or misbehaving that might indicate boredom, I’d say that yes, younger kids will certainly like it. Older teens might find it a bit boring.
3. Will I enjoy it?
I for one was pretty underwhelmed. The Minions, it turns out, are really best in small doses as the cute supporting characters that they were in Despicable Me. The movie has a pretty weak story, and while Sandra Bullock does a good job as Scarlett Overkill, almost all of the other human characters in the movie are mostly forgettable, including Jon Hamm’s role as Scarlett’s husband. The movie also lacks the more grown-up jokes that animated films have generally tried to put in recently to keep parents entertained. Part of the problem, though, was that almost every one of the most genuinely funny parts was in the trailers. There’s no question that this is by far the weakest film in the Despicable Me series.
4. What is it rated?
The MPAA gave the film a rating of PG for “action and rude humor.” Yes, there’s lot of action, including many scenes of the Minions getting their early masters, including a T-Rex and a caveman, killed. The violence is all very cartoonish, though.
The rude humor is pretty subtle. There was, if I recall correctly, one fart noise, and there’s a scene (shown in the trailer) where one of the Minions goes into a swimming pool wearing a very skimpy thong. The Minions butts make a few other appearances, but I certainly didn’t think any of the humor was out of the ordinary for this kind of film.
5. Is it worth seeing in 3D?
I’ve come to the conclusion that animated films are the only ones worth seeing in 3D, and this was no exception. The 3D here is, for the most part, very subtle, but did add some nice depth to the film. I doubt it would lose anything at all in 2D, but if your kids don’t mind the glasses it’s probably worth paying the few extra dollars for 3D.
6. When’s a good time to go to the bathroom?
The movie is pretty short – only 91 minutes. Still, there are a couple of good times if you need to run out. About 35 minutes in, shortly after Scarlett and the Minions arrive in London and she tells them to steal the crown, there’s a sequence where they get some super weapons and then get put to bed that is definitely skippable. There are also several extended chase scenes through the streets of London that you can miss.
7. Is there anything after the credits?
There are cut scenes through the first couple of minutes of the credits, and then there’s a song-and-dance number at the end. Neither set up a sequel or anything like that, but both are pretty entertaining. The post-credits bit also has some of the best use of 3D in the movie.
8. Do I need to know the story of Despicable Me to understand this movie?
No, not at all. As I mentioned earlier, it’s more a prequel, but the only direct connection to the Despicable Me movies occurs in the closing minutes of the movie. You won’t necessarily get that reference if you haven’t see Despicable Me, but everything else in the movie will still make sense.