Despicable Me 3 Review

If you have followed my blog you know my feelings about the minions. Those little yellow gobbledegook speakers have been the bane of my existence the last few years. I hated Minions and have been meh about the other movies. So you can imagine my trepidation going into Despicable Me 3 but I still try to go in with as much of an open mind as possible. And what did I think of this latest entry from Illumination? It’s a mixed bag but I didn’t hate it like Minions so that’s a plus.

Let’s talk about the positives first. The film divides its characters up into smaller subplots. If you read my Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 review you know I don’t always love this approach but in that film I love the group dynamic. Not so much here.

Anyway, I thought a couple of the subplots worked. I liked seeing Lucy trying to figure out how to be a Mom to the girls. As someone who champions adoption this was a nice element to share and I wish they had devoted more time to it. Kristen Wiig in the vocal performance is also great as Lucy.

I also liked getting to spend more time with the girls as I’ve always found them more enjoyable than the minions. Here Agnes is looking for a unicorn in the forest. It doesn’t have anything to do with rest of story but it was cute.

There was also a few laughs in the movie unlike Minions. 80s loving villain Balthazar Bratt had a couple of good jokes and I admit the minions even made me laugh. There is a gag where they sing Modern Major General from The Pirates of Penzance that made me laugh.

But that is where my praises end. While some subplots worked, the major plot of Gru meeting his twin brother Dru really didn’t at all. The two of them interacting weren’t funny or engaging in any way. Dru was kind of annoying and didn’t grow much as a character. They kept trying to make it emotional between the two brothers and I wasn’t feeling it at all.

Also, as much as I enjoyed some of the subplots they don’t tie into together well. Particularly the minions feel like they are in an entirely different movie. In fact, sometimes the story would be chirping along and out of nowhere we’d move over to a minions segment. It was really odd considering the popularity of the characters. It almost felt like they had made a movie and then afterwards added the minions in but that can’t be the case?

And even though I did laugh a few times there were a lot of gags that fell flat and felt very tired. I also do not appreciate Illumination’s love for butt and boob jokes. Enough already!

In the end, Despicable Me 3 feels like average passable entertainment but nothing you will remember in a few months. It’s on the same level as The Angry Birds Movie last year but that movie at least had better animation. There’s nothing that stands out or is special. There’s no great message you will be talking about or animation that tries something new.

I’ve often said Illumination is the fast food of animation and Despicable Me 3 is no different. It’s a passable, average, forgettable film that will probably make a lot more money than it deserves. At least I enjoyed it a little bit.

Overall Grade- C

Best of 2015 Animated Shorts

Hi guys!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  This week I am going to be sharing my ranking for the 2015 animated films but before that I wanted to talk animated shorts!  I love animated shorts and 2015 was actually a really terrific year for the medium.  I haven’t seen all of them as they aren’t all available but I watched a lot and I came up with my top 11.  I worked really hard on this video and would love if you gave it a watch.

But if you don’t want to watch the video I will give the list here.  I did include shorts from anthology films like The Prophet and Extraordinary Tales because I feel they stand on their own as shorts without needing the framing device.  In fact, they are much better without it.

So here are my top 11 2015 animated shorts

11. Frozen Fever

frozen fever5Yep, this die hard Frozen fan puts Frozen Fever at 11 because it is sweet and pleasant but not as artistically ambitious as the others on this list.  Frozen fans like myself will really enjoy seeing Anna and Elsa’s relationship grow and the new song is very enjoyable but it isn’t spectacular or anything.  Just really enjoyable for fans and there is nothing wrong with that.

10. A Bear’s Story

shorts 2015 bears10This animated short from Gabriel Osorio and it has a bit of a steampunk feel (shorts are the best place for steampunk IMO) about a bear that makes pictograph machines with a mechanical version of his family.  It reminded me a lot of Hugo and was very sweet and beautiful.

9. Lava

lava2I’m sure you guys are shocked this isn’t higher but when it came down to it the 8 shorts were more artistically ambitious than Lava.  I love Lava!  I love the music.  The song I have been singing all year and nearly anything with Hawaii has my heart but I just couldn’t get it higher.  It’s a delightful, sweet short.

8. An Object at Rest

shorts 2015 object5Similar to Lava, An Object at Rest tells the story of a mountain, that becomes a boulder, that becomes a stone, and continues on.  It is animated by Seth Boyden and it has a sketchy sweet style like Ernest and Celestine.

7. Le Gouffre

le gouffreThis short was a big surprise for me but it is beautiful.  It is about 2 adventurers that have to cross a chasm and build a bridge to get to the other side.  It sounds mundane but it is exciting and striking with great character designs.  It is from a studio out of Montreal called Lightning Bay Studio and it makes me very curious to see what the studio will do next.

6. On Eating and Drinking

Plympton_ProphetThis short is from The Prophet by amazing animator Bill Plympton who does all his artwork by hand and I love his sketchy style.  (Check out this year’s Cheatin’ to see more of his style).  This is a poem about eating and drinking and the imagery and flow with the poem are beautiful.

5. The Tell-Tale Heart

extraordinary tales8From the Edgar Allen Poe anthology film Extraordinary Tales we get the depiction of Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart.  The art design with the black and white contrasting is really striking and Bella Legosi narrating gave great ambiance and immersed me in the story.

4. World of Tomorrow

shorts 2015 world of tomorrow5I wouldn’t be surprised if after watching it a dozen more times World of Tomorrow is at the top of my list.  It’s very obtuse and out there but I was intrigued by it.  Created by animated Don Hertzfeldt it is basically the animated sci-fi musings of a leader and a little girl.  It’s trippy and weird and different but I liked it for those reasons.

3. On Work

prophet on workThis short from The Prophet reminded me of a Van Gogh painting with the harvesters collecting the wheat from the field.  The poem was beautiful and the animation fit it perfectly.  It is bright and vivid and I loved it.

2. Sanjay’s Super Teamsanjay4I loved this story from Pixar about a little boy and a father trying to reconcile their differing views of the world.  You have little Sanjay who loves superheroes and his Dad who worships and prays to the Hindi Gods.  It’s not about polytheism or superheroes but about how we can take the best of the old and new and make something unique and great. The animation is bright, colorful and very creative.

1.  On Love

shorts 2015 on loveIf you haven’t caught on I am kind of obsessed with Tomm Moore.  His animation is so beautiful.  I loved Song of the Sea- one of my favorite animated films of all time and I think Secret of the Kells is wonderful.  Naturally, his short in The Prophet was my favorite of the group and of the year.  It is called On Love and is of course about love.  We get joy, passion, rejection, and belonging perfectly animated with the Khalil Gibran poem accompanying the stirring images.

 

So that is my ranking.  What do you think about my picks and what are your favorite animated shorts from the year?  I hopefully introduced you to a few you haven’t heard of and I would encourage you to check them out.

I know there are many I missed so please put in the comments section.  Thanks!

Peanuts Movie Review

peanutsI tell you guys I am happy, happy, happy right now!  I just got back from seeing The Peanuts Movie and I LOVED it!

I went into Peanuts a little skeptical.  I love the comics and the shorts that have come out over the years especially Great Pumpkin and Charlie Brown Christmas Special.  The thing I love most is the character of Charlie Brown and how he is thoughtful and even depressed at times.  There’s something about that which makes him very relatable and easy to root for.

I guess he is the classic underdog who we all like and a lot of the times he speaks the truth whether it is about materialism at Christmas or the difficulty making friends.  I was worried this  quality of Peanuts would get lost.  I was particularly worried when Blue Sky was the studio involved and when they decided to go the CG route instead of the hand drawn of the shorts. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the trailer so I was nervous walking into the theater.

But I’m telling you they pulled it off.  This film is a complete delight.  I can’t say enough good things about it.

peanuts9Let’s talk about the animation first.  It feels like a hybrid animation like we got in Paperman or Feast.  I saw it in 3D and it looked multi-dimensional but also paper thin, so it had both a 2D and CG look to it.  Mostly it felt like layers and bold colors to the characters we know and love.

It’s so pleasant to look at and the character design down to the squiggly lines of the smiles was perfect while still having it’s own new look. The scenes with Snoopy, Woodstock and the Red Baron looked bright and wistful, like right out of a comic strip or book.

They also got the voice work perfectly without any of the celebrity voices that can be distracting in films like Home.  These are the voices we know from the original shorts.

peanuts7The story is very simple.  It is basically about how Charlie Brown wants to win the attention of a new red-headed girl but he lacks the confidence he needs to even talk to her.  He gets some advice from Lucy and decides he wants to be a winner.

peanuts3On the way he experiences some really sincere and lovely moments of both triumph and success.  They got the tone just right in this movie and I was always hopeful and filled with joy even as Charlie Brown was struggling.

peanuts4The jokes all worked and the kids in my audience were cracking up (and I was too!).  There is absolutely nothing offensive in this film.  It is G rated and deserves a G rating.  You can take any age of kids and I think they will be entertained even small toddlers I think will like it.

I loved the world of the characters.  These are no cell phones or laptops.  These are kids that have to go to the library to look something up, go skating on snow days and participate in school talent shows for fun.  It all felt so innocent and charming. You can tell they had the influence of producers and screenwriters Craig and Bryan Schulz (Charles Schulz’s son and grandson) involved creating a story that will satisfy new viewers and longtime fans.

peanuts1113

They have a few songs from Flo Rida, Meghan Trainor but you also get the classic Vince Guaraldi numbers from Charlie Brown Christmas Special and the Christophe Beck score uses Guaraldi as an influence.  Jazz pianist David Benoit helps add to the authentic feel of the score.

Over all, I was completely delighted by this film.  I really don’t have anything negative to say. I guess if you are looking for something new and challenging than this isn’t the film for you.  We got that in Inside Out, which I still think is the better film, but I really did love this film.  They had such a tough task in front of them and congrats Blue Sky!  You pulled it off!

Here’s my youtube review.

Overall Grade- A+ Definitely one of best of year.

Hotel Transylvania 2 Review

hotel trans2Can we all pass around a petition or something that will tell Adam Sandler he should only make animated films?  But then again there was 8 Crazy Nights a while back so he is by no means a homerun in animated films either.  Still, his best films by far of the last decade have been the Hotel Transylvania movies.  That’s definitely damning by faint praise but it is nonetheless true.

It’s weird trying to write a review of Hotel Transylvania 2 because I had a good time watching it but I can’t think of a whole lot to say in its defense.  Does that ever happen to you?  You like something almost in spite of itself?

Well, Hotel Transylvania 2 picks up where the fun but forgettable first installment left off with Dracula’s (Sandler) daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) getting married to Johnny (Andy Samburg) and then having a little boy named Dennis or Denisovich as the Count likes to call him.

hoteltrans2-2The Count is a doting grandfather and loves Dennis but is constantly preoccupied on whether he is a vampire or not.  He is a ‘late fanger’ as they like to say and has till he is 5 to get his vampire fangs.  If he doesn’t then he, Mavis and Johnny will have to move back to California where Dennis can be safe.

hotel trans2-3Leaving Dennis with Count Mavis and Johnny go to California to check it out and meet his parents (Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally who should be cast in more voice work.  She’s great!).  Mavis is thrilled with all the nighttime 24 hour options in California.

Back at the hotel Count has his friends from the first film Frankenstein (Kevin James), Invisible Man (David Spade), Blobby, and Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key who evidently is in every comedy of 2015).  They decide to try and scare the fangs out of Dennis and take him on a vacation of their greatest haunts much to Mavis’ anger.

They also end up involving Count’s old school father Vlad (Mel Brooks who is underused in the film)

hotel trans2-5That’s basically the plot.  It’s a silly comedy but it did make me laugh.  I particularly liked a repeated joke  with the Phantom of the Opera singing. The tangents with in California and on the scare quest take away from the humor and the ending drags on and is too maudlin.  But overall it is a pleasant amiable film that is aimed at kids with little to none of the adults only humor I didn’t care for in Minions.   I also laughed a lot more than in Minions from start to finish.

The animation is also nicely done led by the great GEnndy Tartakovsky.  The colors are bright and the characters are surprising and fun.

The voice talent all works but the cast is so large that some of my favorites are woefully underused such as Mel Brooks and Fran Drescher (who I know some hate but I’ve loved her ever since The Nanny).  She has maybe 3 lines in the entire movie. Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, Chris Parnell, Nick Offerman are hilarious actors and they are given very little to do.

FILM STILL - HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 - Frank (Kevin James and Jonathan (Andy Samberg) watch the birthday celebration of Dennis (Ashler Blinkoff, center) with Wanda (Molly Shannon), Dracula (Adam Sandler), Mavis (Selena Gomez), Mike (Nick Offerman) and Linda (Megan Mullally) in Columbia Pictures and Sony Picture Animation's HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2.

And yet the running time is 89 minutes!  I told a friend of mine ‘if Bambi can tell its story in 70 minutes Hotel Transylvania 2 doesn’t need 89).  They could definitely cut out the animated dance number at the end- a trend in animation carried over from the 2000s that I really hate

Hotel Transylvania 2 is a movie made for kids without a ton of grown-up appeal but I did laugh a fair amount.  More than I did in Minions and definitely more than Dreamworks’ Home. It has better animation, writing and story than either of those films.

So take that review for what it is worth.  I would wait and get it from the redbox or rent it.  Have some laughs and enjoy a moderately entertaining animated film. Nothing more, nothing less.

Overall Grade- C

Here’s my video review

Curious George Review

This post previously appeared in my Family Movie Night column over at Ldsblogs.com.  Would love if you checked out all my writings over there and would be so grateful for comments.  Thanks!

curious george4

In this Family Movie Night series there are going to be weeks that appeal to certain families more than others.  Last week was a film that will probably appeal to older children and teens; whereas, this week the choice is more for young children under the age of 5.  As a lover of animation I enjoy all of these films so you never know what your family will like.  I would like to think older kids can sit through a film geared at younger kids but there is always going to be that battle.

Making a film for toddlers is particularly difficult because of their short attention span.  For it to work it needs to be somewhat episodic in feel as opposed to a longer plot that might be hard for little ones to keep focused on.  It also needs to be gentle with a simple message they can absorb.   That’s what makes Winnie the Pooh so brilliant is it is short stories that are sweet and teach a valuable but simple lesson.

This week’s pick recognizes the challenges of making a film for toddlers and executes it very well.  It is the 2006 animated film Curious George.

curious-george-1

Based on the book series by HA and Margret Rey Curious George is kind of an origin story to our lovable monkey named George and his friend with the yellow hat named Ted (voiced by Will Farrell). Ted works in a museum owned by Mr Bloomsberry (voiced by Dick Van Dyke in his first animated film role). The museum is having a hard time entertaining kids some of which are brought by a teacher Ms Maggie (voiced by Drew Barrymore).

The museum isn’t making enough money to stay afloat and Mr Bloomsberry’s son Junior (voiced by David Cross) wants to build a giant parking structure.  This is a tired plot point we’ve seen in movies like Home on the Range but there is so much left to love in Curious George that I didn’t mind the plot.

Mr Bloomsberry is almost convinced to close the museum but Ted changes his mind by promising to find the relic called “The Lost Shrine of Zagawa”.  This is what sends Ted to the jungle and is what helps him meet George.

curious george51

Given this movie was made in 2006 it was actually pretty special to see it not only in 2D animation but for it to be so bright and colorful.  In the world of CG everywhere it is a joy to watch Curious George.  I hate to say it but such a film would never be made in 2D in 2015 and I think that is a real shame.  The backgrounds of both the city and jungle are lush, layered and colorful.  It just looks so beautiful!

They also made George so adorable.  He makes me smile every time he is on screen. I feel they managed to make him even cuter than in the books.   In what may seem like a strange comparison the charm of George reminds me a little bit of Wall-e.  Neither of them talk but they have personality, love another character clearly and are just so darn cute!

After Ted meets George he finds the statue but it is only 3 inches tall, which will not be the grand attraction Mr Bloomsberry is looking for.  Ted smudges this detail in the photo he sends and heads back to New York but George loves him and follows him on the boat.

The rest of the movie is basically George making mischief in one scene after another.  There perhaps could have been one less of these scenes but they are done with such a joyous spirit I didn’t mind them.  Like I said with Winnie the Pooh there is a gentleness and sweetness that even the villain Junior is really just looking to be loved by his Dad.

curious george3

To perfectly appeal to toddlers Curious George could have been a little shorter. It would have been better at just around the hour mark but I think most kids should be able to sit through the 86 minutes.

There’s a really nice message to the film about embracing adventure and being loyal to those who love you whether actually your family or not.  I also think it is nice to see a film where a little mischievousness and individuality is encouraged in young children not put down as disorderly or too manic.  (Although watch your walls after the kids view this movie!).

As far as the voice talent they all do a good job although I don’t think the celebrity voices are really necessary.  I think the people who are going to watch Curious George are going to do so celebrities or not.  Movies can save a lot of money by having voice actors do their job and I wish more films would use that amazing resource.

curious george15

The music is a huge standout in the film with original songs from Jack Johnson.  This I think was worth the money as his relaxed style goes well with the bright joyous nature of Curious George.  I love all of the songs and even bought the soundtrack when it came out year ago.

I’m a 34 year old adult with no kids and I really enjoy Curious George.  It’s so beautiful. I love the music and the sweetness of the characters.  It’s like a hug from a friend and I think a hidden gem many don’t know about.  If you like Curious George there are a number of sequels and a TV show from most of the team minus celebrity voices that are also very well done.

If you do watch it with or without your little one put in the comment section what they think about it. I would love to know how they react as it is a type of film especially with the 2D that is rarely made any more.  Enjoy and stay curious!

Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos Review

un galloI have a goal to see all the animated films released each year and 2015 is no exception.  I thought I had a good handle on the films coming out but was surprised today when looking at the box office to see an animated film that had flown under my radar.  It is a Mexican film called Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos.  Being Monday is my movie day I went out gave it a watch.

Gallo (as I will call it) is made by Huevocartoon Producciones and it is done with mostly CG with some 2D dream sequences thrown in (kind of strange the characters dream in 2D?).  Over all, I thought the animation looked pretty good especially considering a 5 million budget.  It’s bright and colorful and tells the story pretty well.  It’s really hard to believe Dreamwork’s Home cost 135 million and I certainly liked this better than that…(Isn’t that just insanity that one movie can cost 130 million more not including marketing than another!).

Anyway, Gallo features a bevy of Mexican stars doing voice performances and to my ear at least they all did a fine job.  The music by Zacarias M de la Riva was also pretty good.

un gallo5Gallo is about on the level of Minions for me.  The plot isn’t that great and it had way too much adult humor but there was some things to like.  Over all, I thought it was average movie. I’m glad I saw it.

It’s about a rooster named Toto who is the runt of the litter but always dreamed of fighting in the cock fights downtown (evidently cock fights are legal in Mexico).  These cock fights are actually done with gloves like a boxing match. There’s a star fighter named Bankivoide and a former star fighter called The Red Rooster.

un gallo8A sort of weird element to the film is that the eggs all have personalities and talk.  I was a little bit late so I may have missed an explanation but it didn’t seem like these eggs were ever going to crack which I found strange.  There is also a piece of bacon that moves and talks which was strange. You think a processed slice piece of meat, even if it is pork, might make the chickens a little uncomfortable.

You do see the owner of the farm and her husband has died and they are behind on the mortgage.  Unfortunately this brings us the tired plot we’ve seen a million times of ‘save the farm’. Sigh…

un gallo3The animals decide to enter Red Rooster in a cock fight to win back the money to save the farm but when they challenge Bankivoide the Godfather Egg (yes, you read right) says Toto must enter the fight.

un gallo6They accept the offer and Red Rooster tries to find a duck who beat him when he was a fighter.  This leads to a strange section with a rapping Snoop Duck…The star duck has died but his trainer egg is around and he agrees to train Toto.

un gallo9There is also a sexy chicken that looks like a peacock who sets vultures on Toto and the gang so that they won’t beat Bankivoide.

It’s very predictable and silly but just nutty enough to be mildly entertaining.  However, the kids in my audience did not seem to enjoy it and kept having to go in and out, up and down the aisles (was a little annoying!).

un gallo5As a movie fan there were some pretty good in-jokes and references to other movies that made me laugh.  The script isn’t that bad. It’s just in the service of a super corny, played-out story.un gallo4

And there are a lot of inappropriate jokes.  We get jokes like the sexy bird singing about a rooster ‘hitting my sweet spot’ and lots of jokes about cocks and breasts that were completely uncalled for.  It will probably over most little kids heads but that is no excuse.  I hate that kind of content in children’s films.

un gallo10

If your kids speak Spanish then it might be a good experience for them to hear a movie in their language, or if they are trying to learn Spanish it could be a useful tool.  It’s right on that level of Minions.  Bright, colorful, a few laughs and weird choices to keep me semi-interested.  It’s not one to rush out to see but if you get a chance give it a watch.

Here is the trailer to give you more of an idea.

Overall Grade- C, Content- B-

Did the Right Film Win? 2006 Animated Oscars

Hey guys!  So 2005 was a very strong year.  Can’t say the same for 2006.  It is a very eclectic kind of strange group of nominees but they all have problems.

You all can read my thoughts on Cars here on the blog. It is a weird world of all Cars but if you can get past that it is a nice little movie with a good message about the loss of Main Street USA.  It looks great and the humor is well done.  It is definitely a little bit too long and drags in sections but I can see why kids love it.

Monster House was done by Image Movers and it has the pasty look of that studios films.  The animation in general I am not a big fan of .  Also, they made a mistake and had the movie go big in feel when it should have stayed small.  It turns into a Godzilla like film and it is so crass in its humor it didn’t work for me.  I can see why it has its fans but it just wasn’t for me.

Happy Feet is another strange offering.  It starts out so cheerful with the penguins singing and Mumbles dancing.  But then half way through they forget the singing and it turns into this message movie with the penguins going to tell the humans to stop over-fishing.  The last 30 minutes feel like a different movie.  It is also way too long.  But the enjoyable sections are very adorable and fun so not a total loss.

What are your thoughts?  I have loved the discussion this series has stimulated both on the channel and blog so thank you! If you like the video please give it a thumbs up.  Thanks!

Shaun the Sheep Review

Believe it or not the next animated film of 2015 is here, Aardman Animation’s delightful Shaun the Sheep.  Based on the BBC series of the same name (which I had not seen till today) it is a spin off of the popular Wallace and Gromit movie and series created by Nick Park and team.  However, most of Wallace and Gromit’s humor is based on the PG Wodehouse type dialogue where Shaun the Sheep has literally no dialogue at all so they are quite different films.

shaunthesheep10The better comparison for Shaun the Sheep is the recent Minions.  Both movies are about adorable creatures who can’t speak English and go on an adventure.  In my opinion Shaun the Sheep is the much better of the two.

I went with a friend and her two kids.  They seemed a little tired so that may have been part of it but they weren’t super into it.  I think I laughed much more than they did so make of that what you will.  That said, I think this is a funny movie for the whole family without any of that wink-wink humor Minions had in droves.  There is a little bit of potty humor but not much.  Mostly it is just funny sight gags and slapstick.

shaunthesheep7The plot is pretty simple (also an improvement from the convoluted plot of Minions).  Basically Shaun and his buddies decide they want a break from the farm so they put the Farmer to sleep and attempt to make their escape.  Unfortunately the Farmer ends up in the Big City and loses his memory.  They must go after him and help him remember who he is.

There is a nice relationship between the Farmer and the sheep I liked.  As crazy as it sounds it felt genuine.  The sheep seem genuinely worried about their owner.

shaunthsheep5There is a ‘Animal Containment Specialist’ named Trumper who is the villain of the film.  He is kind of like a Home Alone style villain who gets fixated on catching the sheep to his own funny detriment. (A little like the Farmers Wife in Chicken Run).

shaunthesheepShaun the Sheep is a brisk 85 minutes and despite having no dialogue aside from grunting and ba,ba,ba, I was engaged.  It’s pretty funny the humans all talk like the Swedish Chef in the Muppets but it works because we get just enough of it.

I don’t know if Shaun the Sheep is quite as memorable as Chicken Run or Wallace and Gromit but I suppose that is a tall order.  Is it one we will be talking about in 15 years like we do Chicken Run (can you believe it is that old!)?  Probably not but I enjoyed it.  And like I said compared to Minions it is so much cleaner, smarter and enjoyable.

I also like the design of the sheep.  They are so cute but they also talk out of the side of their mouth in a funny way.  Stop motion animation is so amazing to watch.  It always blows me away.

shaunthesheep4If any of you get to see it let me know what you think especially if you are a fan of the series, which I am definitely going to check out.

Overall Grade- B+

Here is my youtube review.

Minions Review

minionI got to see the Minions movie tonight. I went into this movie actually pretty excited.  I am not the biggest fan of the Despicable Me movies.  I think they are just ok, but the thing I like about them most is the minions characters.  They are really funny with their language and love of bananas.  There is something adorable about them.  They even like selfies on occasion…

minions9And little kids love the minions.  I’ve seen it with my 5 nieces.  They crack up and get a huge smile on their faces whenever they see the minions.  But it is always tricky when a sidekick gets their own movie (think Elektra…) especially sidekicks that don’t speak English.  How was this going to work?

Then the first trailer came out and it looked really cute.  It is actually the first 5 minutes or so of the movie in that first trailer and it is the best part of the movie IMO.  We get the history of the minions starting with amoeba cells and then through all time periods looking for a master to serve.  This takes us to 1968 and 3 of the minions decide to go out and look for their leader before they all perish from boredom.  They are Bob, Kevin and Stuart which for some reason makes me laugh.  It just seems like funny names for these minions.

minions6They then travel great distances and there are some cute gags but nothing that wasn’t shown in a trailer and that made me laugh out loud.  The best scene is probably when Stuart wants to eat Kevin and Bob because he thinks they are bananas but again that is in the trailer so you don’t need to pay the big bucks to see that. Eventually they make it to New York where we start to get material from the second trailer.  This trailer had me nervous.  It looked like a lot of adult ‘wink-wink’ humor which I really hate. Like do we really need to see Stuart in a thong and having a threesome joke?  I certainly don’t.

minions2But luckily there isn’t that much of those jokes so my fears were mostly ill founded.  Besides, pretty much all the adult humor jokes are in the trailer including a scene where they are tortured which was strange and hung in a noose. Do we really need that in our kids comedy?  These scenes were awkward instead of funny.

minions7 minions8The minions eventually go to Villain-con which was a fun sequence and they meet Scarlet Overkill voiced by Sandra Bullock.  Her character had potential but they didn’t do much with her.   I think they needed a vocal performance with a little more sauce to it like someone Russian or with an exotic accent.  Bullock ends up feeling flat as Scarlet but it isn’t really her fault because she doesn’t have much to do.  Her boyfriend is voiced by John Hamm who is actually a little bit funnier than Scarlet.

minions5The one thing I did like is Scarlet wants to be a princess and be treated like royalty.  She already has the money so I thought that was kind of clever to have a female villain who still wants to be pretty and a princess.  Usually the villain hates princesses. I also liked she wanted her hair cut like a drawing of her as a princess she did when she was a child.  That made me laugh.

minions4So she equips the trio of minions to steal the crown from Queen Elizabeth.  The rest of the movie is then spent in England and at one point Bob becomes King of England which was funny.

minions3 I think small kids who already love the minions will enjoy this movie.  It is definitely better than say a Home or Strange Magic.  That said, I never really laughed like I did for Penguins of Madagascar last year which was very funny and had great vocal performances.  It also makes me realize how clever Mr Peabody and Sherman was because that had a thin premise but the jokes were so good I laughed a lot.  Both those movies are much better than Minions.

A friend of mine asked me if she should still see and I said yes.  It’s fine but just know it is made for little kids without a ton of grown up appeal.  But then it has those adult moments which are unfortunate. However, it does look nice and is bright and colorful and the beginning 20 minutes is a lot of fun. It’s when they get to England that things really fall apart.

In the end I left Minions thinking ‘that was cute but I didn’t laugh’, and I think many of you will feel the same way. I also might have laughed more if everything hadn’t been in the trailers.  But like I said it’s cute, there are a couple jokes that work but there are sections where I got a little bit bored because I wasn’t laughing.

Kids will like it but probably forget about it rather quickly.  If you have a $1 theater by you wait till then to take the kids.  It’s worth a $1.  $10 I don’t think so.

If you like 1960’s classic rock you will enjoy the soundtrack with songs from The Who, Beatles, Kinks and many other bands.  They must have spent a fortune on all the songs so that is cool.

I will say the people in front of me were laughing hysterically so maybe I missed something? Or they were on something?  Not sure…

Overall Grade- C-

Any of you see it?  What did you think?

My youtube review