The creators of “Minions” obviously never heard either of two complementary expressions: “A little goes a long way” and “too much of a good thing.”
If they had, there would be no “Minions” movie. Except, of course, what am I saying? This is a Hollywood studio, where too much of a good thing is always the desired end-product and no one wants to talk about a little of anything — they want a lot, if not all (of the money, of course).
The Minions are escapees from the “Despicable Me” animated comedies: sidekicks, elevated to the main attraction. (Two words: “The Tortellis.”) It’s probably impossible that you haven’t seen them, since they’ve turned up as hucksters for any number of product tie-ins to this film.
What’s that? You’ve been stuck in an “Inside Out” commercial loop all summer? OK, let me describe them: The Minions are the little yellow characters in goggles and denim bib overalls who look like canary-yellow time-release capsules with arms and legs. Or perhaps they look like yellow Mike & Ikes. Candy for the kids, pills for the parents.
The Minions were/are built to serve evil. In “Despicable Me,” they were the comic-relief between the actual plot, as they did their bumbling best to serve the villain Gru. This film amounts to their origin story: how they emerged from the ocean to indenture themselves to the most dominant villain they could find. Why? Geoffrey Rush’s plummy narration never explains that facet.
So the first 20 minutes or so is like a series of sketches or, perhaps, a short animated film. Which, really, is what this idea should have stayed. Instead, writer Brian Lynch gives them a pre-Gru master, a female villain named Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock). She takes on the three central Minions (Kevin, Bob and Stuart) and tasks them with stealing the crown jewels of England.
So forth and so on: The plotting is frantic but only occasionally funny, while the slapstick animated action is imaginative but never quite as amusing as the filmmakers obviously think it is. Kids, of course, will be transfixed; adults, considerably less so.
Think of “Minions” as the equivalent of a meal made entirely of french fries — a side dish elevated to the main course. By the end, you’re stuffed, but you’re hardly satisfied.