Max: Hey Mike. What are Minions? What are they?
Mike: Metatextually, it’s what happens when you try to make a pile of completely flavorless mashed potatoes into Pikachu by having it speak pidgin English. Until recently I thought that they were a genetically engineered gelded slave race created by Gru (Steve Carrell) to do slapstick in the background of his “Humorous” “Schemes.” But apparently I was wrong.
Max: I remember reading something about the conception of Masters of the Universe where Mattel deliberately designed He-Man to be as generic a character as possible so they could plug him into any scenario or whatever that they wanted. That kind of mercenary thinking is alive and well in these Despicable Minions. They’re insidiously unobjectionable.
Mike: The reason that I hate The Minions has far less to do with anything annoying that they do than the feeling I get that an exec at Universal’s also-ran animation wing Illumination Entertainment thinks that people are so fucking dumb that they’d like charm-free completely transparent Joke Delivery Mechanisms that show up every ten minutes to do a dance to a Bee Gees song. I hate even more that apparently he was right, and now has a house full of single-use gold toilets.
Max: I mean I realize this is kind of obvious, but it is INSANE to me that Pixar put out Inside Out, this incredibly ambitious, incredibly well designed, super genuine animated flick, and we’ve got Minions sharing multiplex real estate with it. I know people like these Despicable Me movies but, concept to final product, they always felt really phoned in to me. Minions is like if a perpetually stoned kid in your 12th grade American History class turned in a 500-word essay on the Sixties he copied from Wikipedia.
Mike: I react the same way that I do to hearing someone I hold dear say that they like Minions as I would if they dropped a Hard N at Thanksgiving dinner. It’s like…Man. I respected you. Dad, you know better than this. Please don’t embarrass yourself. Don’t make me avoid talking about bananas at the table.
Max: Before we get too far into this, Mike and I would be remiss if we didn’t thank all our friends and fans who PayPal’ed/Venmo’ed us ACTUAL MONEY to see this movie after I half-jokingly said the internet owes us the cost of a ticket for this review. Special thanks to angel investor/pun-loving fuck David Uzumeri for straight up buying our tickets. In 3D, no less. You people either really like us or really hate us.
Mike: These people accessed their deep inner need to hurt us by paying us money. We had a Minion Slush Fund large enough to cover some hideously cheap accoutrements from the local Five Below that we sartorially flagellated ourselves with at the movie theater, including matching Minions Backpacks and some terrible-neighbor-birthday-party quality Minion goggles that we distributed to the lost and notably adult souls who shared the theater at eleven on a weeknight.
Mike: We even commissioned Deadshirt Web Overlord and artist Jen Overstreet to do a “Minion” portrait of us that is lurking moistly to unsettle you at the end of this piece.
Max: BUT WE DIGRESS. Let’s get to it. Minions is a completely strange movie on almost every level. I struggle to call it a movie because most movies tend to have conflict or underlying motivations for their characters. Minions felt like a feature length movie trailer. Did I mention that this is a period piece? Set in the Sixties? And that this movie will never, ever let you forget that? The plot of this movie is so basic and dumb that we’re not really going to get into it; Google it on Wikipedia if you feel you have to.
Mike: You are constantly, pointlessly, bludgeoned with the Sixties. It’s like you’re James Bond and Minions is using a Best of 1968 vinyl box set to whomp your nards through a wicker chair.
Max: At one point the Minions peep out of a sewer right underneath The Beatles mid-Abbey Road walk and then the movie, like a Wall Street cokehead derisively throwing wads of hundreds at a crying woman, plays “Got To Get You Into My Life” over the credits. Remember how it was a big deal when Mad Men did this? Minions has enough “fuck you” money to buy George Harrison’s bones if they wanted to, and they want you to know it.
Mike: Minions is at once totally predictable and totally inexplicable. Max and I predicted 90% of the artists that would be included (The Turtles, The Kinks, The Who, The Doors) because you can get the rights to those songs if you give Ray Davies a ride to the Safeway, but then there’s an E N T I R E M U S I C A L N U M B E R centered around the song “Hair,” from the musical Hair. I couldn’t have predicted that, because who could possibly give a shit about the Rent of the Sixties outside of “Age of Aquarius?”
Max: You very astutely pointed out last night that all the Sixties stuff goes beyond the normal adult pandering movies like this have to do to keep parents from falling asleep—this is absolutely, like, grandparent pandering? I can’t imagine a child getting anything out of this movie’s completely weird obsession with Queen Elizabeth or a Nixon campaign poster.
Mike: If this movie were at all honest about playing to the nostalgia of people who are having children of a Minions-Appropriate age, then Minions would take place in Seattle in 1991, Kevin would nude up before jumping in a pool, and Bob would trade Courtney Love a banana for some shotgun shells. Inexplicable.
Max: Speaking of the Sixties and Mad Men: Jon Hamm is in this, and he straight-up sounds like he’s dying. I think he legitimately recorded his lines either right before or right after he had throat surgery. The low-level dread of this movie is amplified by the death rattle of Don Draper. I think Minions might be about the American Dream or, more accurately, the American Nightmare.
Mike: Which is funny because the constant narration by Geoffrey Rush, filling in the spaces where these little pieces of shit bastardize Spanish, sounds supernaturally healthy. It’s like a Japanese voice simulator program created in case Geoffrey Rush gets killed by Mr. Freeze.
Max: Sandra Bullock is also in this as the movie’s main villain and, man, talk about ciphers. I don’t have a ton of expectations going into something like Minions, okay? I recognize that this isn’t for me, it’s for children and maybe a very specific adult Tumblr faction. But Bullock’s character, Scarlett Overkill, kinda just compounds everything about this movie that sucks. Who is she? We are told she is the first female supervillain (okay). What does she want? General supervillain stuff, mainly to be the Queen of England. Her relationship with the Minions, the main characters of the movie, is nebulous beyond using them for her scheme and getting mad when one of them accidentally becomes Despicable King Ralph after pulling the literal sword from the stone.
Mike: There are 15 five-minute plots for better movies in here (Michael Keaton and Allison Janney’s Crime Family should be on AMC this fall), and none of it fucking matters because, spoiler alert, Gru just shows up at the end and owns Scarlett and her husband with a freeze ray. It makes the entire 90 minutes of excruciating dance numbers totally pointless. It’s like if you got a kidney removed to give to your sick cousin and he just fucking died before you put it in. Inconsiderate.
Max: The casting for this movie is fascinating, because if you told someone all these actors were in one movie together you’d be like, “oh, wow, is this like an Oscar contention movie?” and then they’d smack you in the FUCKING FACE and tell you that, no, it’s a movie about the Minions from Despicable Me.
Mike: I would straight up sit on an Oscar statuette, no lube, instead of having to go through watching director and Minion voice “Actor” Pierre Coffin shoe horn a gibberish version of “Make ‘em Laugh” into his stuffed animal commercial again. It’s like those pies from the old Nickelodeon game shows that were just whipped cream in a tray. It’s useless. Hey kids, it’s a Minions version of The Monkees theme! From your favorite show! The Monkees! You Little Morons!
Max: I think my biggest takeaway from Minions was how completely inconsequential they are to the plot, such as it is. They are dragged from one “ha..heh” set piece to another by the demands of the script, but they only do enough to keep the wheels moving. The movie ends with one of the Minions using a sci-fi device to grow huge but there’s no like set up or punchline or anything; he just somehow does it.
Mike: Film Crit Hulk’s got ten thousand all-caps words in him about how Minions is actually a nihilist masterpiece.
Max: “BOB IS A FRAGILE FLOWER IN A PERVERSE WORLD. HIS TEDDY BEAR REPRESENTS THE INNOCENCE WE LOST IN VIETNAM. WORLDSTAR WORLDSTAR BUY HULK’S E-BOOK!”
Mike: Minions is a humiliating indictment of how dumb we all are and always have been, so get your wallets out to force Max and I to go to the inevitable Minions Islands of Adventure after John Hammond pours original recipe FourLoko all over our kitchen to tell us that he’s got something right up our alley.
Max: Yeah give us more money, idiots.
The Minions is in theaters now and is playing on a perpetual loop in Hell.