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What To Expect From The 'Minions' Movie: A Despicable Marketing Ploy

Nate Gualtieri |
July 6, 2015 | 3:21 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Kevin, Stuart, and Bob at the Minions premiere. (@minionnation/Instagram)
Kevin, Stuart, and Bob at the Minions premiere. (@minionnation/Instagram)
The upcoming animated release from Universal Studios, “Minions” is truly the prequel that no one asked for. I don't want to give away too much of the plot (not that there's that much to of one to begin with), but the premise revolves around Kevin, Stuart, and Bob, selected by their minion tribe (Herd? Flock?) to embark on a quest to find a new evil villain to serve. After a cursory quest involving copious montage and voiceover, they settle on Scarlett Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock), the headliner at “Villain-Con.” From there, they bumble around and muck things up as is expected of minions. Let me put it this way: if you've seen a single trailer, you've just about seen the whole movie.

So, why did this movie get made? I'll tell you why: someone over at Universal decided to fire up the money machine and cash in on these yellow snot blobs. This film offers up no new information about the franchise and the yellow protagonists don't offer enough character to be compelling. Aside from a bemused snort or two, it's not anything new comically. Most of the jokes simply riff off of previous minion shorts.

READ MORE: Why 'Inside Out' Is So Important

How in the everloving name of Gru can we get a fulfilling movie with character development when the characters can't even talk? I wasn't expecting the next “Birdman,” but character complexity in “Minions” is null. I understand the need for an accessible, silly movie for children, but it doesn't mean it can't transcend the intended age range in terms of storytelling. “Inside Out” is killing it at the Box Office right now because it tackles difficult topics and emotions with children head on (literally) while managing to resonate with adults as well.

What's worse, Universal had the chance to create another lovable villain with Scarlett Overkill, but on that front, they have failed. The root of her evil ways stems from childhood obsession, but unlike Gru from “Despicable Me,” we never see her hurting, or glimpse any humanity behind the maleficence.

Please never wear these. (@CrocsEU/Tumblr)
Please never wear these. (@CrocsEU/Tumblr)

Frankly, it's astounding that Universal has scraped together enough material to warrant a feature-length film. Not without a struggle it seems, because the final viewing clocks in at a mere 83 minutes. The movie itself is laden with exposition. It's as if they're banking on the minions' marketability to gloss over the messy writing.

READ MORE: Are Animated Movies A New Approach To Serious Topics?

Minions certainly were marketable, for a time. The original minions were clumsy, loveable, possibly even cute. But now the minion subculture is moving so entirely into the meta-philosophical realm that it's folding inwards on itself. The rise of “Minion Memes” is a trend so utterly moronic and simultaneously vexing that in thousands of years anthropologists will still be scratching their heads over it. These yellow tic-tacs have resonated with the middle-aged surburban mom demographic to a dumbfounding degree.

However, marketing is the real culprit in why the bar for “Minions” has been set so low. “Any publicity is good publicity” is a far outdated marketing truism. We have minion memes, minion crocs, minion Twinkies—they even got a Fourth of July Snapchat filter. Universal has so thoroughly marketed this film that it has incited a consumer backlash even before the film's official release. Just head over to /r/MinionHate on Reddit to see the disgust firsthand.

The final ruling? The Minions are like hot sauce: best in small doses.

"Minions" opens in theaters on July 10.

Contact Staff Reporter Nate Gualtieri here.



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