There’s nothing wrong with the Minions movie, as long as you call it what it is: a kid’s movie. In the olden days, kids’ movies would have primary-coloured protagonists with annoying, high-pitched voices who got into non-sensical high jinks with little to no thought to plot. And we were fine with this, because we’d pop it into the VCR and let it babysit our kids for a while, and we’d pay as little attention to it as humanly possible. But then Pixar came along and raised the bar. Sure they improved the quality of computer-generated animation, but they also did something few had done before: the movie spoke directly to the adults in the audience. They found a way to appeal to children, and also the child in all of us. So the other animation studios have (tried) to follow suit.
Despicable Me was reasonably successful at this – if you remember the Evil Bank where Gru goes to get an evil loan, you may have caught the sign, which identified the bank as (Formerly Lehman Brothers) – think the kids got that one? I took a poll. They did not. What kids did notice, however, was the bright yellow pill-shaped sidekicks, aka the Minions. They squeak gibberish and generally look cute while acting devilish – what 3-year-old can resist? In fact, these little sidekicks are modeled after three-year-olds, full stop. Sidekick spinoffs are meant for them, not us.
Minions are occasionally funny and occasionally annoying as fuck. You’ll get tired of the joke well before it’s over, but this movie isn’t made for you. It’s not even made for your adorable nephew. This movie is made to move merchandise, and dear god has it been successful on that score. A movie is a $12 ticket and maybe a $25 DVD, if they’re lucky. But adorable, rotund minions are potentially a whole line of toys waiting to happen. Action figures! Plushies! Jigsaw puzzles, sticker books, back to school supplies, board games, snack packs, fart guns, voice changers, licensed goddamned EVERYTHING! And we should know. Having recently visited Universal Studios, we Assholes were briefly (but memorably!) turned into minions. Thankfully we were turned back because the park was already overrun as it was: the minions were everywhere! You could eat them, buy them, have your picture taken with them. The Minions are a machine now. You may feed it dollars to keep it quiet.