Minions (USA, 2015)
Directed by Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin
Starring Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock, John Hamm, Michael Keaton
The incremental success of the Despicable Me films has been one of recent mainstream animation's most pleasant surprises. Who would have thought that Illumination Entertainment, which has spent years milking the Ice Age series to death, could also have struck lucky lightning with this likeable comedy and its entertaining sequel? Certainly the films have been among the best things that Steve Carell has done, notwithstanding his recent contribution to The Big Short.
The Pirates! In An Adventure with Scientists! display the same principles of painstaking attention to detail, intelligent plotting, well-written characters and jokes for all the family. The company has a level of film literacy that is hard to top, but its outputs also manage to be accessible for everyone.
Belleville Rendezvous and to a lesser extent The Illusionist. By effectively removing or minimising speech, directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin use physical action and situational comedy to drive the plot. The story is easy to understand but has some nifty qualities, and the rate of jokes is higher than in many modern comedies.
Shrek 2 brushed close to the issue in its sequence involving our heroes' infiltration of the Fairy Godmother's factory. But Minions confronts the issue head on, taking the tired old story of the small guy trying to find his purpose in the big wide world and building an entire civilisation around it. One could almost call it a justification of chivalry, with the minions being a million little Sancho Panzas waiting in vain for their Don Quixote to come along.
Shine, Quills and The King's Speech. While the script he is bringing to life isn't the most remarkable in the world, his intonations is matched very effectively to the facial expressions of the minions, providing some initial impetus and structure to prevent the whole project from becoming an episodic farce.
NEXT REVIEW: When We Were Kings (1996)