MINIONS: Starring Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock, Steve Coogan, Michael Keaton, Steve Carell, Geoffrey Rush. Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda. Rated PG (Mild animated violence) 91 minutes
By John Mulderig
FILLET it how you will, “Minions” is a rare treat.
This bright 3D animated comedy traces the history of the yellow, capsule-shaped creatures whose endearing presence in the background contributed to the success of both 2010’s “Despicable Me” and its rather unimaginatively titled 2013 sequel, “Despicable Me 2”.
In hauling these sweetly bumbling beings to the fore, and providing them with an ever upbeat – though not always tightly crafted – adventure of their own, co-directors Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda avoid any genuinely objectionable material.
Only a few scenes of combustive mayhem and a couple of mildly out-of-place visuals may give some parents pause.
After an origins story that reaches all the way back to the primordial ooze, the proceedings settle down in the swinging London of the 1960s.
There, motivated by their natural inclination to serve a villainous master, the central trio of minions – Kevin, Stuart and Bob (all voiced by Coffin) – assist famed criminal Scarlett Overkill (voice of Sandra Bullock) and her mad scientist husband Herb (voice of Jon Hamm) in their wild scheme to steal the British crown from Queen Elizabeth II (voice of Jennifer Saunders).
Narrated by Geoffrey Rush, and interspersed with familiar hippie-era musical standards, the freewheeling plot pursues its own logic down curious courses, some of which feel like detours. But the underlying morality is sound enough.
In contrast to Gru, the supposed bad guy of the earlier outings, Scarlett is a truly negative character given to selfishness, greed and disloyalty. Her evil tendencies, which carry straight-forward consequences, are all the more obvious when compared to the virtues consistently displayed by Kevin and his pals – an appreciation for one another and a sensitivity to the common good prominent among them.
The climactic conflict might prove too much for small fry. The film contains occasional cartoonish violence, fleeting anatomical sight gags and a touch of scatological humour.
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.