The sweet spot for kids movies is to create something that entertains and engages children, is highly rewatchable and sells a lot of toys. Minions, the prequel to Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2: Despic Harder, checks off all of those boxes.
But what about the parents? Adults will, invariably, see the film almost as many times as the children. Will they be entertained? Will they be engaged? Will they go two hours without trying to commit movie-induced seppuku?
Mercifully, thankfully, resoundingly, Minions is a movie that aims for a broad audience and captures it.
Like the Despicable films, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and its sequel and most (though not all) Pixar movies, Minions seems to have been written by an actual human being and not some godforsaken kids joke algorithm. Theres a real story, a certain logic, some twists and turns and laughs that appeal to people who are old enough to vote.
The movie explains that the cute, begoggled and only somewhat incompetent tiny yellow henchmen were not created by Gru (the hero of the Despicable Me films) but evolved alongside man.
Yes. They evolved. Evolution happens in this movie. Maybe that will bother some of you, but thats your problem.
On Maslows Hierarchy of Minion Needs, following the biggest, baddest boss is shoehorned in around the belonging and esteem layers. From dinosaurs and cavemen to vampires and the French, the minions have served some truly terrible creatures.
Finding themselves boss-less, they form a closed-off society and live happily ... for a while. By the 1960s, the need to follow is so strong that their otherwise idyllic life loses all flavor. So Kevin, Stuart and Bob set off on a quest to find a new boss for all of their buddies to serve.
After a brief stop in New York City, the minions learn about Villain-Con International the biggest meeting of bad guys on earth and hit the road, hoping to meet a boss who will give them purpose and direction and a sense of family.
Even as they are leaving the tribe, Bob who begged to come along immediately begins to miss his family. That need to belong is a strong throughline in Minions. The boss they seek is not just someone to follow, but a surrogate parent. And when they are hired by Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock) and her husband Herb (Jon Hamm), it seems like theyve found a family who will care for them.
The film has a lot of fun with the historical setting, though very few jokes poke fun at the 60s. Instead, Minions plays with expectations and tropes, charting an unpredictable and hilarious ride.
Of note: The PG rating must have something to do with the amount of implied violence in the film. The minions get chased by angry hordes, and there are more than a few threats of annihilation. And while it might be different for kids, as a viewer, there never seemed to be any kind of intense worry about their fates during these scenes.
Also, the soundtrack is bonkers. The film looks gorgeous, but with the Rolling Stones, Beatles, The Who, The Kinks and more, the music budget for this film must have been twice as much as the animation budget.
Bottom line: Kids will watch almost anything. Calliou taught us that. If it moves and its animated, theres a good chance children will plop down on a pillow and watch it over and over and over again.
Minions is the rare kids movie that will have adults plopping down beside them, eager for another viewing.