Monday, January 23, 2017


Year 9, Day 23 - 1/23/17 - Movie #2,523

BEFORE: Steve Carell carries over from "The Big Short", and he was also in "Café Society", so now I'm regretting once again that I didn't watch that when I had the chance.  The die is cast, I've got my eye on Valentine's Day lining up, so there's not much I can do about that now.  I've got four animated films this week, which tend to be shorter, which is great for me because I'm falling behind on TV and comic books again, plus I have to re-build all my iTunes playlists on the new computer.  So even with shorter films, I've got some late nights ahead of me. 

FOLLOW-UP TO: "Despicable Me 2"  (Movie #2,207)

THE PLOT: Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob are recruited by Scarlet Overkill, a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world.

AFTER: I've got to get off of politics and Trump, because I'm starting to sound like a broken record.  Besides, there are plenty of people who are protesting more and louder and better than I am - plus, you never know who's listening...  So let's get off of Trump, and on to some fun animation stuff.  

"Minions" is the story of a bunch of little clueless and confused people, who are looking for a leader, and they've decided to follow the commands of the most evil person they can find.  Nah, that's going to get just get me back on Trump again.  Let me try a different way...

"Minions" is the story of an evil villain who plans to take control of a country, and then double-cross the people who helped do that.  Damn, this is not going to be easy....

Truthfully, there are differences, because the main villain here is a woman, and the country she's trying to take over is the U.K., which the last time I checked, was a monarchy.  And you don't become the ruler of the U.K. just by stealing the crown, it turns out.  You kind of have to know someone, or be born into the proper family.  But since this is for kids, I guess you have to give a little bit of leeway, you can't really get into the vagaries of royal succession, how it goes to the oldest son, and if he has a son then it skips over his brother and sister, and so on.  

You kind of have to go with the flow here, because when a Minion steals the crown, somehow he becomes king.  But he wants to give the honor to his boss, Scarlet Overkill, even though that's "against the rules" - and the story was ignoring the rules in the first place, so WTF?  Why start saying there are rules once you've already broken them?  Comic effect, I know - but a more clever screenwriter would have acknowledged the rules earlier and written around them.    

For reasons like this, I found the story very hard to follow here - and the fact that the main characters speak a form of broken French that's the equivalent of gibberish, well, that didn't help.  The whole relationship between the minions and their employer, Scarlet Overkill, seems out of whack somehow.  Right from the start, when she holds a sort of open competition for assistants in the middle of Hall H at the "Super-Villain Convention" (really? a blatant rip-off of Comic-Con?), it's all a bit strange.  Wouldn't it make more sense to hold auditions one at a time, so she could see what each is really capable of?  Imagine you were casting for a movie role, and you got all the actors who wanted the part in a room together, and you just told them all to start reading the lines loudly at the same time, hoping that one of them would stand out.  Really, it would all be a bunch of confusing noise, right?

But Scarlet selects the three minions to work for her, and she tells them to steal the British crown.  Her husband, Herb, even helps arm them with some of his inventions, but then later she's surprised by this.  Did she not want Herb to help them, did she not want the Minions to succeed?  Because when they do, she's immediately upset with them, even though that's what she had told them to do.  Then, even when the entire British feudal system is upended to allow her to be the new Queen, she's STILL upset with the Minions and punishes them.  Will nothing make this woman happy?  Everything goes her way, and still she doesn't take it well?  I mean, yeah, she's a villain, but what gives? 

NITPICK POINT: The Minions go into exile after working for Dracula, and they don't surface out of their ice-cave until some time in the late 1960's.  We don't know how long they roamed the earth before arriving in New York City in 1968, but let's say they were out of communication with the outside world until 1965.  How, then, do they know about modern music, like the song "Make 'Em Laugh", sung by Donald O'Connor in 1952?  Or how does Stuart know how to play the electric guitar?  

NITPICK POINT #2: It's done for comic effect here, but there's an impossible time-loop that takes place in the background at Villain Con.  Professor Flux uses future versions of himself as helpers, plucked from future points in the time-stream.  But when one future version accidentally kills the original, the others vanish a few moments later, because they're all older versions of the same guy.  But this is just not possible, because if Flux dies at ANY point between "Now" and "Then" (the future points he pulled them from) then they wouldn't even exist at those points, because he died/will die before then.  So he couldn't have plucked them from the future if he wasn't going to be alive then, right?  (Only if he didn't pluck them from the future, one of them wouldn't have killed him.  So we go around and around on this...)   

NITPICK POINT #3: If the "Secret Villain Channel" is so secret, how do the Minions accidentally tune it in?  It can't just be because they moved the TV antenna in a certain way, because that doesn't help you receive extra channels, it only improves the reception on the channels that you DO get.  Augh, there are a ton of these little mistakes, and when you add them all together, it seems like someone just didn't pay attention to the way that anything properly works.  I mean, I know it's a cartoon and a cartoonish reality, but some things still have to work the way they do in the real world, or at least display the rules of cartoon physics.  

NITPICK POINT #4: Why are the Minions so desperate to work for a super-villain, centuries or eons before there even was such a thing?  It doesn't follow any form of logic - a dinosaur is not a villain, it's just a dinosaur, it eats, it hunts, it can't even be classified as "good" or "evil", it just is.  So why are the Minions, who apparently live forever, even following a dinosaur as a substitute for something that doesn't even exist yet?  For that matter, why do they even seek out a leader, when they could be plenty capable of building a society on their own, or electing a leader from within?  

They made some odd choices on the music tracks, too - there's about zero connection between the 1960's rock songs that were chosen and the plot - unless you count the songs played during the closing credits, which were "Mellow Yellow" (because the Minions are yellow) and "Got to Get You Into My Life" (because the minions do work their way into Gru's life, eventually).  All of the other songs, I'm hard pressed to figure out why they were chosen, there's no rhyme or reason to it.  Similarly, the cameo of the Beatles walking across Abbey Road feels like it was just tossed in.  

Also starring the voices of Sandra Bullock (last seen in "Practical Magic"), Jon Hamm (last seen in "Friends With Kids"), Michael Keaton (last seen in "Robocop" (2014)), Allison Janney (last seen in "Spy"), Steve Coogan (last seen in "Philomena"), Geoffrey Rush (last seen in "Frida"), Jennifer Saunders (last seen in "Muppet Treasure Island"), Pierre Coffin (last heard in "Despicable Me 2"), Katy Mixon, Dave Rosenbaum.  

RATING: 5 out of 10 yetis

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