Can there really be too much of a cute thing? I’m talking about the minions — those tiny, yellow, goggle-eyed creatures who served the villainous Gru (indelibly voiced by Steve Carell) in two Despicable Me blockbusters. It’s not whether this prequel can mint money; that’s a given. The questions is: Can the minions carry a movie all by their mischievous mini-selves?
‘Fraid not. This origin story, while being utterly harmless and far from despicable, wears out its welcome way too soon. For starters, all the good stuff is front-loaded. That’s a prologue that traces the minion story from the time of the T-Rex through Dracula, Napoleon and whole slew of evildoers. The movie, directed by Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin from a script by Brian Lynch, never tops that inspired intro. In their search for the ultimate villain, the minions — led by Kevin, Stuart and Bob (all voiced in delightful gibberish by Coffin) — hit a few dead ends, including a family of crooks (dad is voiced by Michael Keaton, mom by Allison Janney). At a Villain-Con convention in Orlando, they find the scheming Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) and her inventor husband, Herb (Jon Hamm). Scarlet enlists their help in stealing Queen Elizabeth’s crown. It’s a botch job, much like the movie. It’s always fun to watch the minions shake their sillies out. But occupying the star spot instead of the chorus is a burden these fabulous freaks can’t quite shoulder.