Finally the tiny yellow buggers from the “Despicable Me” movies are getting an origin, a sort of explanation about where the pill-shaped, garbled-talking Minions come from.
Origin stories can work sometimes, but the list of films about how the bad guys got bad are, to be kind, generally not so good. (See “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace,” “Maleficent”).
“Minions” bucks that trend, probably because the evildoers are so dang adorable. In fact, in getting to know them better, the affection grows.
Starting with a rapidly told evolution story, we see the horde of Minions (all voiced in a mixture of different foreign languages and gibberish by the film’s co-director Pierre Coffin) from the earliest moments of life on Earth going from one villain to the next with an undying, inherent need to serve evil.
But as anyone who has seen the “Despicable” films knows, while they’re helping Steve Carell’s Gru, they’re a bit hapless and prone to causing disasters.
That unfortunate quirk is what gets the Minions exiled, living alone without a bad guy to serve and slowly withering away.
It’s up to a trio of Minions — Kevin, the bold leader; Stuart, the guitar-strumming free spirit; and Bob, the innocent one — to find a new master.
It’s now 1968, and the trio finds their way to a villain convention in Florida — by way of a pretty wonderful recreation of old New York — and hired by Scarlett Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock) and her evil- gadget-building husband Herb Overkill (Jon Hamm), who have a grand plan for them to steal the British crown. Of course, Minions aren’t known for their success rate.
The first “Despicable Me” film was a grand success: funny, clever and smart. The second movie was all right, but nowhere near as good.
“Minions” is a strong jump-start to the franchise. It’s different in tone, thanks to its ’60s-era setting and classic rock soundtrack, which is refreshing.
“Minions” maintains the evil-first mentality, but without Gru in the lead, it’s a vastly different movie. And all the better for it.